Racially discriminatory apartment ads on craigslist — which say things such as “No Minorities” or “African Americans and Arabians tend to clash with me so that won’t work out” — may be perfectly legal under the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects Internet forums that post ads and opinions submitted by their users. The San Francisco-based internet site founded by Craig Newmark (pictured) is being used by housing advocates who contend such ads violate the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which applies to newspaper ads. But reporter Mike Hughlett of the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that experts believe the Communications Decency Act, or CDA, may trump fair housing laws. Hughlett points out that a federal judge in California cited the CDA in a 2004 decision dismissing a suit by two fair housing groups against Roommates.com, a roommate search service. The case, which is on appeal, is similar to the one against Craigslist.

SF Press Club News

One Comment

  1. The House Finance Committee recently held hearings regarding ads that discrminated against Katrina evacuees based on race. Both the GOP and Dem members indicated that the CDA was never intended to shield websites from the Fair Housing Act and said they would work to amend the law if necessary.

    Also, I believe the case on appeal in the 9th Circuit will be overturned. There have been a couple of other, more recent cases where courts chose not to follow the California precedent.

    It will be interesting and important to see what happens in the craigslist suit.

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