United States: Website Operator Convicted of Facilitating Prostitution
Monday, December 22, 2014 12:00 PM

On December 11, the California owner and operator of an online prostitution website pled guilty in U.S. federal court to charges of facilitating prostitution. This marks the first federal conviction of a web operator for hosting advertisements for sexual services. The website, MyRedBook.com, operated across the United States and Canada. It allowed potential sex buyers and MyRedBook.com members to search for prostitutes and the sexual services they offered by geographic location and other terms.

The website’s owner has forfeited the website domain names and $1.28 million in cash and property. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 19, 2015.

A 2014 article in the Albany Law Review has called online advertisers the “invisible partner” to pimps and sex traffickers in modern prostitution transactions. The article, which investigated the use of internet technologies to facilitate sex trafficking, found that online advertisers often profit from the violent exploitation of women and girls for sex. The California conviction indicates that law enforcement is starting to address the significant challenges posed by online advertising to preventing and combating sex trafficking.

Compiled from: California Operator of MyRedBook.com Website Pleads Guilty to Facilitating Prostitution, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice (December 11, 2014); Farley, Melissa, et al., Online Prostitution and Trafficking, Albany Law Review, Vol. 77.3 (October 2014).