Despite all its shortcomings, the internet provides endless possibilities for the future of many industries. Is the sex industry one of them?
We live in an increasingly online world. Everything is mediated. Everything is digitised. And (almost) everything can be accessed at the touch of a button or scroll of a mouse.
So the fact that the sex industry is now increasingly an online enterprise, should come as no surprise.
In much the same way as one might use the internet to order a pizza or review a restaurant, escorts can advertise on personal websites and clients can read reviews before meeting up. This allows a two-way screening process to take place which has resulted in less disease transmission and improved safety.
There is no denying that these advances, otherwise known as prostitution 2.0, have made the sex industry safer for both workers and clients, but the question remains: how can it be done better?
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As the University of Colorado’s Scott Peppet argues, there is still a lot of potential around internet technology to make the sex industry smarter and safer. He has called this “Prostitution 3.0”.
Using technology will make sex work safer for workers and clients – but there is something very important holding it back.
The Law School professor proposes that new technology could deal with problems of disease, violence, and coercion, but this would require “removing legal barriers to ongoing technological innovation in this context, such as state laws criminalising technologies that ‘advance prostitution.'”
It seems that the biggest obstacle in making sex work safer is the fact that aiding and promoting prostitution remains against the law.