The tech industry’s image has already been tarnished this year by a slew of controversies, mishaps, and scandals, including those involving big names like Uber and Tesla. With just days left in the year, one more scandal has gripped the big names in the tech world, including Microsoft and Amazon.
Sex trafficking – a concerning issue for tech world
According to a report from Newsweek, employees from Amazon and Microsoft (and other tech firms in Seattle) bought services from trafficked sex workers. As per the report, employees used their company accounts to sent emails to brothels and pimps with the objective of buying services of trafficked sex workers. It is believed that the brothels and pimps ask for emails from the company addresses to verify that the person is not connected to any law enforcement agency.
Newsweek got the emails through a public records request to the King County Prosecutor’s Office. These emails were sent to the brothels and pimps between 2014 and 2016. Of all the emails, 67 were from Microsoft employee accounts, while 63 came from Amazon accounts and others were from other companies like Oracle, Boeing, T-Mobile, and local tech firms.
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“Some of the emails were collected during a 2015 sting operation that targeted sex worker review boards and resulted in the arrest of 18 individuals, including high-level Amazon and Microsoft directors,” the report said.
Two of the arrested executives opted for a trial, which is expected to begin in March.
The sex industry in Seattle has reportedly boomed from between 2005 and 2012, a rise that coincides with the growth of the tech industry in the region. Some brothels even market themselves giving their proximity to the tech offices. According to Polaris – a leading anti-human trafficking organization – the Silicon Valley has over 700 Asian brothels.
Speaking to Newsweek, Alex Trouteaud, director of policy and research at the anti-trafficking organization Demand Abolition, said the tech industry is a “culture that has readily embraced trafficking.” Trouteaud feels that the tech industry has a laid-back attitude towards the sex trafficking issue.
What Microsoft and Amazon have to say?
Microsoft, meanwhile, told Newsweek that it has cooperated with the agencies to take on the sex trafficking and other related issues.
“The personal conduct of a tiny fraction of our 125,000 employees does not in any way represent our culture. No organization is immune to the unfortunate situation when employees act unethically or illegally,” the company told.
Amazon said that it’s “Owner’s Manual” clearly reads that the company is against any sex buying activities in Amazon’s workplace or in a work-related setting outside of the workplace.
“When Amazon suspects that an employee has used company funds or resources to engage in criminal conduct, the company will immediately investigate and take appropriate action up to and including termination,” the online retailer told.
It is not the first sex scandal involving Amazon this year. Previously, actress Rose McGowan blamed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for covering up her rape. A report from the Daily Mail UK read that the actress claimed that the online retailer “optioned a television series from her only to kill it soon after when she voiced concern about a possible move the company was making to bailout Weinstein.”