Prostitution 3.0?

Author:Scott R. Peppet
Position:Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
Pages:1989-2060
SUMMARY

This Article presents an entirely novel approach to prostitution reform focused on incremental market improvement facilitated by information law and policy. Empirical evidence from the economics and sociology of sex work shows that new, Internet-enabled, indoor forms of prostitution may be healthier, less violent, and more rewarding than traditional street prostitution. This Article argues that... (see full summary)

 
FREE EXCERPT
1989
Prostitution 3.0?
Scott R. Peppet
ABSTRACT: This Article presents an entirely novel approach to
prostitution reform focused on incremental market improvement facilitated
by information law and policy. Empirical evidence from the economics and
sociology of sex work shows that new, Internet-enabled, indoor forms of
prostitution may be healthier, less violent, and more rewarding than
traditional street prostitution. This Article argues that these existing
“Prostitution 2.0” innovations have not yet improved sex markets
sufficiently to warrant legalization. It suggests that creating a new
“Prostitution 3.0” that solves the remaining problems of disease, violence,
and coercion in prostitution markets is possible, but would require removing
legal barriers to ongoing technological innovation in this context, such as
state laws criminalizing technologies that “advance prostitution.” This
Article considers what Prostitution 3.0 might entail, how it might be
created, and whether it would succeed in remedying the ongoing problems in
prostitution markets.
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................... 1991
I. THE FOUR PROBLEMS OF PROSTITUTION 1.0 ......................................... 1999
A. INFORMATION ASYMMETRIES .......................................................... 2001
B. NEGATIVE EXTERNALITIES .............................................................. 2003
C. COERCION ...................................................................................... 2004
D. OBJECTIONABLE COMMODIFICATION ............................................... 2005
II. THE INCOMPLETE IMPROVEMENTS OF PROSTITUTION 2.0 ..................... 2007
A. PROSTITUTION 2.0’S TECHNOLOGIES .............................................. 2008
1. Low-Cost Advertising ............................................................ 2009
2. Review of Sellers ................................................................... 2011
3. Screening of Buyers ............................................................. 2013
B. THE IMPROVEMENTS OF PROSTITUTION 2.0 .................................... 2016
Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School. Thank you to the faculty of Colorado
Law for their feedback, and to Irfan Khan, Ryan Lee, and Maggie Macdonald for their research
assistance.
1990 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 98:1989
1. Effects on Information Asymmetries .................................. 2016
2. Effects on Negative Externalities ........................................ 2021
3. Effects on Coercion .............................................................. 2022
4. Effects on Objectionable Commodification ....................... 2024
C. THE REMAINING PROBLEMS WITH PROSTITUTION 2.0 ..................... 2027
1. Remaining Information Asymmetries & Externalities ...... 2028
2. Remaining Coercion ............................................................ 2030
3. Remaining Commodification .............................................. 2033
III. THE POSSIBILITIES OF PROSTITUTION 3.0 .............................................. 2034
A. PROSTITUTION 3.0’S TECHNOLOGIES .............................................. 2037
1. Verification of STD Status ................................................... 2037
2. Verification of Criminal History .......................................... 2038
3. Anti-Trafficking Analysis ...................................................... 2039
4. Biometric Identity Verification ........................................... 2041
B. INCREMENTAL PROSTITUTION 3.0 LEGAL REFORM .......................... 2043
1. Removing Legal Barriers to Innovation ............................. 2044
2. Regulating Prostitution 3.0 Intermediary Firms:
Confidentiality, Neutrality, Privilege & Reporting
Requirements ....................................................................... 2046
3. Tightening Existing Safe Harbors Over Time ................... 2051
4. Legalizing Prostitution 3.0 & Simultaneously
Criminalizing the Purchase of Sex Outside of
Prostitution 3.0 ..................................................................... 2052
C. FINAL ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST ............................................ 2053
1. The Problem of Unexpected Consequences ..................... 2056
2. The Problem of Remaining Street Prostitution ................. 2057
3. The Problem of Political Will .............................................. 2058
CONCLUSION .......................................................................................... 2060
2013] PROSTITUTION 3.0? 1991
There is no strong evidence that prostitution is, at least in the United States and
certainly among its higher echelons, a more desperate exchange than, say, working in
Walmart.1
— Political Philosopher Debra Satz
What is wrong with prostitution cannot be fixed by moving it indoors. The same
harms are there whether she is in a trick’s house, a back alley, his car, or a room at a
hotel.2
— Prostitution Scholar Melissa Farley
INTRODUCTION
Imagine the following scenario. A potential customer contacts a
prostitute through her online advertisement. She agrees to meet with the
customer at his hotel room the following week, but first requires him to
submit his name and identifying information to a qualified Internet
intermediary. The intermediary uses that information to run analytics on the
customer. It checks that the customer has no history of crime or violence,
verifies the date and results of his last medical test for sexually transmitted
diseases (“STDs”), and confirms that no other prostitute has reported him
for misbehavior. The intermediary sends this information to the prostitute,
without including the customer’s identifying information such as his name
or address. It simultaneously sends the client a de-identified report on the
prostitute, including information on her criminal history, health status, and
customer reviews. The intermediary also verifies that she is of age and has
not been trafficked by cross-checking her identity against government
records and other data. As soon as both parties review this information and
confirm their desire to proceed, the intermediary takes a fifty percent
deposit from the customer, which it holds in escrow. When the prostitute
and the client first meet the following week, they quickly conduct iris scans
of each other’s eyes using a pocket device that connects to the prostitute’s
mobile phone. The intermediary uses this biometric information to confirm
that each is the actual person whom the firm verified and the other agreed
to meet. Neither knows the other’s name, but each knows that the other is a
safe, healthy, and uncoerced counterpart. Each knows that the intermediary
is legally obligated to maintain their confidences, but is also obligated to
reveal their identities to law enforcement if their interaction is marred by
1. DEBRA SATZ, WHY SOME THINGS SHOULD NOT BE FOR SALE: THE MORAL LIMITS OF
MARKETS 141 (2010). The term “desperate exchange” comes from Walzer’s treatment of
market inalienabilities. See MICHAEL WALZER, SPHERES OF JUSTICE: A DEFENSE OF PLURALISM AND
EQUALITY 102 (1983) (“Desperate exchanges, ‘trades of last resort,’ are barred, though the
meaning of desperation is always open to dispute.”).
2. Melissa Farley, Prostitution Harms Women Even if Indoors, 11 VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
950, 962 (2005) (reply to Ronald Weitzer, Flawed Theory and Method in Studies of Prostitution, 11
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN 934 (2005)).

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP