Employees From Microsoft, Amazon Bought Sex Trafficking Victims Using Work Emails
Silicon Valley’s Female Problem was well-known long before the #metoo movement started toppling piggish men in media, politics and the arts. But emails obtained by Newsweek reveal another sordid corner of the tech sector’s treatment of women: a horny nest of prostitution “hobbyists” at tech giants Microsoft, Amazon and other firms in Seattle’s high tech alley.
The emails from the men, some hoovered up in a sting operation against online prostitution review boards, are all similar, often disguised as replies to wrong addresses.
“I think you might have the wrong email address.” wrote one man from his Amazon work address to a brothel.
“Think you might have the wrong guy,” wrote another to a pimp from his Microsoft work email.
“Got it” wrote a man at an Oracle email address, also directed to a pimp.
Those emails are among hundreds fired off by employees at major tech companies hoping to hook up with trafficked Asian women. They were on their work accounts because Seattle pimps routinely asked first-time sex-buyers to prove they were not cops by sending an employee email or badge.
The cache of tech company emails were obtained by Newsweek via a public records request to the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Law enforcement authorities have been collecting them from brothel computers over the last few years; some were obtained in connection with a 2015 sting operation that netted high-level Amazon and Microsoft directors.
The tech sector’s many problems with women—from notoriously hostile workplaces and quotidian sexual harassment, to CEOs with histories of violence against women—have been widely reported for years, including a Newsweek cover story.
But one aspect of the industry’s bad behavior has received little attention: the widespread and often nonchalant attitude toward buying sex from trafficked women, a process made shockingly more efficient by internet technology. And some studies suggest that the tech sector, overwhelmingly male and requiring long, lonely hours on computers, has more avid consumers of prostitution than many other fields.
In the Seattle area, brothels even advertise their proximity to Microsoft headquarters on the backpage.com site: “New Open Mind Asian Hot Sweet Pretty Face Nice Body Top Service (Bellevue-Redmond near Microsoft).” Or, “Certifiably Sexy Student Nuru Massage 69 Tongue Bath (Bellevue-Redmond Microsoft Access).
A study commissioned by the Department of Justice found that Seattle has the fastest-growing sex industry in the United States, more than doubling in size between 2005 and 2012. That boom correlates neatly with the boom of the tech sector there. It also correlates to the surge in high-paying jobs, since this “hobby” (the word johns use online to describe buying sex) can be expensive: some of these men spent $30,000 to $50,000 a year, according to authorities.