This year, the tech industry has been under a lot of fire, getting mixed up in scandals and controversies involving sexism, harassment, and misogyny. Recently via Newsweek’s report, the employees from the big names of the tech world, Microsoft and Amazon, have been found hiring trafficked women for sex services. Along with these two, companies like T-Mobile, Boeing, Oracle, and local Seattle tech firms, are also caught up in the same scandal.
According to the report, the workers sent emails to the pimps and brothels for the purchase of services of the trafficked sex workers. The employees had to email via their company accounts to prove to the Seattle pimps that they were not working for any law enforcement agency. These messages dating from 2014 to 2016, were collected by Newsweek through a public records request to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
However, some emails were obtained from a 2015 sting operation, ensnaring high-level Amazon and Microsoft directors. Now, two of these directors would have to face their trials, set for the coming March.
It is revealed that 67 emails were sent from Microsoft employee email accounts and 63 emails were from Amazon workers’ accounts, while dozen more were emailed by the other mentioned tech companies. It is noteworthy that the people who sent these emails haven’t been charged, so far. The identities of these men are also not disclosed.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is willing to fully cooperate with law enforcement and is ready to take any necessary action that would be appropriate for the matter. The tech giant told Newsweek:
“Microsoft has a long history of cooperating with law enforcement and other agencies on combating sex trafficking and related topics, and we have employees who volunteer their time and money specifically to combat this issue as well. 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. 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.”
Amazon too has given a similar statement to the publication, showing the company’s concern for the case, stating: “Amazon’s 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, such as during business trips, business meetings or business-related social events.’ 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 director of policy and research at the anti-trafficking organization Demand Abolition, Alex Trouteaud, spoke to Newsweek, saying that the tech industry is a “culture that has readily embraced trafficking.” Trouteaud feels that the tech community doesn’t show much concern for this sex trafficking scandal.
Reportedly, there has been a significant rise in the Seattle sex industry from between 2005 and 2012, growing together with the tech sector in the region. Polaris, a leading anti-human trafficking organization, describes that there are over 700 Asian brothels, currently in Silicon Valley.
All in all, the investigations are going on and there will be more to be uncovered from this whole issue. So, for more on this matter, stay in touch.