Unveiling the tech industry’s patronage of brothels, an investigation by American weekly magazine Newsweek has found that employees from Amazon and Microsoft, among other tech firms in Seattle, purchased services from trafficked sex workers.
According to the report published on December 21, the employees of the tech giants had brazenly sent emails to brothels and pimps from their company accounts in the hope of obtaining services of trafficked Asian women. The publication got records of the emails that were reportedly sent to brothels and pimps between 2014 and 2016.
The emails, obtained through a public records request to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, reportedly showed that 67 of them were sent from Microsoft employee accounts, 63 from Amazon accounts and dozens more from companies like Boeing, T-Mobile, Oracle and local Seattle tech firms. The authorities have been collecting them from brothel computers for a few years, and have seized records from a fraction of the area’s hundreds of brothels and illicit massage parlours.
“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. Two opted for a trial, which is currently set to begin in March,” the report highlighted.
According to Newsweek, Seattle’s sex industry has grown alongside the tech industry and men spend up to $50,000 per year on sex workers. Brothels also advertise how close they are to tech offices. Meanwhile, Microsoft told the publication that it has cooperated with law enforcement and other agencies on combating sex trafficking and related topics in the past.
“The personal conduct of a tiny fraction of our 125,000 employees does not in any way represent our culture. No organisation is immune to the unfortunate situation when employees act unethically or illegally,” the company was quoted as saying.
“When that happens, we look into the conduct and take appropriate action. Microsoft makes it clear to our employees they have a responsibility to act with integrity and conduct themselves in a legal and ethical manner at all times. If they don’t, they risk losing their jobs,” Microsoft added.
Amazon said its “Owner’s Manual” clearly states that it is against Amazon’s policy for any employee or Contingent Worker to engage in any sex buying activities of any kind in Amazon’s workplace or in any 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 company may also refer the matter to law enforcement,” the company was quoted as saying.
Authorities believe that the employees might have sent the emails from their work accounts because Seattle pimps ask first-time sex-buyers to prove they were not cops by sending an employee email or badge.