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Article about prostitution on the internet


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LAST EDITED ON Dec-25-00 AT 03:30PM (EST)[p]LAST EDITED ON Dec-25-00 AT 03:17 PM (EST)



I'm not sure if the following link will work. It's a fascinating article about prostitution on the internet. The article includes comments from law enforcement officials, among others, and sadly reenforces my belief that "full service" escorting won't become legal any time soon. Just in case the link doesn't work, go to http://www.zdnet.com and do a search for prostitution. You'll get several results, some of which are for dead links, eventually you'll be able to click on the link that works.





Just in case, here's a copy of the first page of the artice:



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ZDNet > ZDNet News Page One > Internet > Prostitution thrives on the Net



Prostitution thrives on the Net


Civilian vigilante groups are playing a key role in bringing online prostitution cases to the attention of authorities.



By Mike Brunker, MSNBC

June 7, 1999 5:43 AM PT


Demonstrating the adaptability that helped earn it the title of "world's oldest profession," prostitution is thriving on the Internet, slipping into comfortable new guises like sex-for-money chatrooms and Web sites showcasing fancy call girls and boys.


But with the continued expansion of the online sex trade, and the appearance of numerous civilian vigilante groups determined to halt its spread, pressure is building to rein in the hustlers and hookers of cyberspace.


The use of the Internet to advertise prostitution has received far less attention from law enforcement, politicians and the media than its notorious cousin, online pornography.


But workers on the front lines of cybercrime say it is a growing concern, particularly when it involves minors selling their bodies to the highest bidder in chatrooms.


Crusaders like Pete Hampton, a former lawman who established the Web Police to serve as an online clearing house for complaints of online criminal activity, say that when they attempt to bring prostitution cases to the attention of authorities, they are often met with indifference.


"We find very few will even touch it," Hampton said.


A difficult issue

"It's hard to bring this issue to an investigative agency's attention," agreed Linda Fairstein, chief of the sex crimes prosecution unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. "...Government resources, especially with local police agencies, don't begin to compare with what what Web-literate people can do in terms of crime, prostitution in many ways being the least of it."


Federal authorities, however, insist that they have quietly been pursuing the most serious cases for some time.


Peter Gulotta, head of the FBI's Innocent Images task force in Baltimore, told MSNBC that the bureau is currently pursuing several cases involving online prostitution rings that extend across state lines, a prerequisite for federal involvement. Similar cases have been brought in Dallas, Miami and Boston over the past several years, he said.


Federal cases have almost exclusively focused on cases involving children, but local authorities are beginning to demonstrate a limited interest in virtual vice.


Police in Florida, Nebraska and New Jersey have in recent months busted at least five online "escort" services that allegedly were providing sex for money. Only one involved minors: A case in Palm Beach County, Fla., in which 27-year-old Jay Ryan Quinn stands accused of prostituting underage runaway girls through his Web site.


Though there are no numbers to quantify the prevalence of prostitution operations on the Internet, as neither the federal government nor the states keep track of such cases.


But Hampton, of the Web Police, says he and his staff receive an average of 50 to 75 reports of prostitution each week out of a total of 1,500 complaints.


Echoing the complaints of police departments around the world, Hampton says he and his staff engage in triage to focus on the most important cases -- those involving children.


"We have to prioritize," he said. "... If this is simply a matter of a call girl service or an individual female advertising her services on the Internet, and she's of legal age of consent, this is not a priority case. If this is someone advertising child prostitution or selling children on the Internet, it does become a priority case."


A decoy's view

Donna, a volunteer undercover decoy who lures chatroom pedophiles into the arms of police, says anyone who doubts how widespread the online sex trade has become should try posing as a 15-year-old girl in an adult chatroom like AOL's "Barely Legal" forum.


"I can count to 10, and by that time I'm already being hit on," said Donna, who asked that her last name not be used to diminish the threat of retaliation from those she has helped prosecute. "... Individuals are coming in and sending me private messages asking me, 'Do I like 40-year-old men?' ... and asking me about different sexual situations. I've had them mail me plane tickets. I've had them offer me their condo on the beach if I just come stay for the week. Anything, anything that a child will want.


"If you're a troubled teenager, it's an absolutely easy way to make quick money. ... You can almost have an auction. You can sit there and say, 'Well, this guy just offered me 50 bucks.' 'Well then, I'll offer you $100.' And she can barter herself and set the time and place. How easy is that?"


In the Quinn case, the tip that launched the investigation came from one of the alleged hookers. But more and more often, citizen vigilantes like Donna and agencies that focus on sexual abuse of children are playing a key role in bringing prostitution cases to the attention of authorities -- and in particular, those that involve minors.


Ruben Rodriguez, director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Cyber Tipline, said his staff has seen substantial growth in the number of pedophiles using chatrooms to lure unsuspecting children teens into situations where they are likely to turn to prostitution.


"We do see ... (situations where) children are actually enticed by individuals on the Internet to come meet them," he said. "Then they realize ... that the individual falsely represented themselves, they're stuck somewhere ... They have to find food and shelter and the only basic commodity they have to sell is themselves."


Staff members at the center process the leads received on the tip line, then forward the information to the relevant law enforcement agency, Rodriguez said. Next page / (part 2)


See also: Internet section



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