An Ethereum startup is offering $25,000 to the first 10 sex workers who come forward with information about clients who were also members of Congress who voted to pass the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA).
The campaign is run by SpankChain, which had its ICO in October, and is one of several recent startups for sex on the blockchain. The company is attempting to break into the often expensive, discriminatory world of adult industry payment processing using the blockchain.
Ninety-seven senators voted to pass FOSTA-SESTA in March. It will become law if the president signs it this week. FOSTA-SESTA is a mashup bill that incorporates parts of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), and was framed by supporters as an anti-sex trafficking measure. Open internet activists and sex workers warned it would endanger people more, instead of helping actual victims of trafficking, by making websites more liable for what their users do and say on their platforms. In less than a month since its passage, there have already been repercussions on the industry and beyond—including the shutdown of Craigslist personals and stricter enforcement of Google Drive’s policies on sexual content.
Janice Griffith, co-founder of SpankChain and an adult performer, told me in an email that the company hasn’t yet decided what it will do with the information it gathers from this campaign. Whether the information is published will involve a “mutual decision” between SpankChain and the person coming forward, she said.
“We hopefully plan to utilize information gathered for leverage against elected officials whose political motives are hypocritical and selfish; pushing legislation that endangers instead of protecting–outlawing and putting the same people they purchase services and time from at risk,” Griffith said.
Many lawmakers have resigned because they’ve preached conservativism to their constituency and pass laws that hurt women while simultaneously practicing the behavior they speak out against. But sex worker-rights advocate Kate D'Adamo told me that SpankChain’s idea could further harm the industry. She said in an email that at first glance, it seems like SpankChain is “capitalizing on the stigma of the sex trade and using it to shame someone, while not caring about the collateral damage that this kind of thing does to sex worker rights.” D’Adamo compared it to the kind of political reward-money stunts pornograher Larry Flynt used to pull in the 90’s: “This is entirely about being angry about the bill and nothing to do with sex worker support.”
SpankChain says it plans to pay people who do come forward in either USD or Ethereum, whichever the sex worker prefers.
“We want to expose the hypocrisy and corrupt representation that exists within our government, working not to serve the people but attack them for their choices and allow lives lost as collateral damage under a charade of well-intent,” Griffith said. “SESTA does not serve to actually end sex trafficking or forced labor of any kind, rather it pushes consensual workers out of places they have created for themselves and criminals further underground.”