With law enforcement going after online sex trafficking of minors with a vengeance, Bitcoin virtual currency is becoming the preferred coin of the realm for the sex industry.
Police and the FBI have battled escort services for decades in an effort to root out underage sex trafficking. Their most effective tool has been following credit card transactions and threatening to publish data on sex consumers’ actions and payments.
Negative publicity badgered Craigslist into shutting down escort advertising on its adult content sites in 2010, despite huge and profitable traffic.
After Cook County Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart called a news conference this summer to detail how he made 800 arrests for child prostitution over the last six years by tracking credit card payments, Visa and MasterCard were shamed into cutting-off processing of transactions for Backpage’s adult website.
Dart claimed that his effort was part of a crackdown on criminal sex traffickers who “prey on the weak and vulnerable.” He argued that the use of credit cards in the “violent” sex industry “implies an undeserved credibility and sense of normalcy” to illegal transactions and increases the demand for “women and girls” who are often supplied through “coercion and violence.”
But the announcement outraged so-called “sex workers” across