What is it

In the USA in 2018, a new law signed into law that was supposed to combat online human trafficking, but has had the opposite effect on sex workers and has made work less safe.

  • FOSTA = Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act
  • SESTA = Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act
  • Then, still in 2019, the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act came through that makes access to banking for sex workers (even) more difficult.

The laws are (intentionally) worded rather vaguely, but the bottom line is that no sexual content may appear on any server on US soil. "A federal crime to operate an internet service that promotes or facilitates prostitution". Posting or sharing material with sexual content is prohibited, it doesn't matter if the person posting or sharing the content is a U.S. citizen or is from another country. What is new is that the server where the material is found is punishable, and not, as usual, the person who posts it. Sex work is the only thing that this inversion has been used for. It does not matter if it is involuntary or voluntary paid sexual services. Large platforms (think social media and advertising platforms in the USA) have changed their terms of use, often stating that no offensive language (nice and vague so) may be used.


What it can mean for a sex worker

In the USA, sex workers lost their advertising platforms such as Backpages and Craigslist (say Marketplace and Kinky), they have a harder time screening their clients and alerting each other. It again made it almost impossible to work independently and many had to go back on the streets and had a pimp again. There have been demonstrable deaths as a direct result of Fosta-Sesta.

Many platforms (especially social media), all hosted on US territory have been banning sex workers since then. Unfortunately, sex workers on Dutch territory are also affected by this. They are blocked or 'shadowbanned', without any explanation by social media platforms. We suspect that these laws are even the reason why credit card companies, like Visa, block sex workers. The whole OnlyFans thing was also a result of these laws.

Although Dutch sex workers are less directly affected, there are also cases where there is a 'Fosta-Sesta smell'. Almost everything you use on the Internet is in the USA and so you also use their products (Gmail, Word, Dropbox, WeTransfer, GoFundMe, the list is endless). You can suddenly lose your job or be denied for a service. Usually without giving a reason.

The content of your data can cause a platform to be held liable (in the USA), and they don't want that, which is why they bar sex work content. That's the basic rule.


What can you do
  • Take an inventory of what programs and services you use on the Internet for sex work, and find out what country the server is located in.
  • Always have an offline backup of your documents and data around sex work on a separate hard drive, or choose a secure cloud solution (i.e. one that is not located on US soil).
  • The best thing to do is switch to more secure programs, but that can be a big step. As an intermediate step, open new accounts for safer programs. Don't go all the way yet, but use them side by side at first and notify other users that you are going to switch. If then suddenly the first program stops serving sex workers then you already have the new option at hand.
  • Pay attention to what you use as words, maybe you can change a few letters, e.g. "segs worg" or "s3ks".
  • Try to spread your services, don't advertise on one platform, don't have your money in one place, don't work only one webcam platform. Spread out!
  • Have you yourself come across something odd that you think has a 'Fosta-Sesta' smell to it? Report it to the Advisor.

Maybe you're using now:

  • Email programs (such as Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook)
  • Chat programs (such as Whatsapp, Messenger)
  • Social media (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
  • Cloud storage (such as Dropbox, GoogleDrive)
  • Internet design software (such as WordPress, Webly, Wix, JimDo)
  • Hosting for your website business
  • A browser such as GoogleChrome or MicrosoftEdge


And would you be better off switching to:


Continue reading