Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Tech-industry Sex Trafficking in Seattle Report raises MAJOR questions about Austin's Amazon Bid

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
Galatians 6:7

Austin and Atlanta share the best odds of landing Amazon's HQ2, says Irish betting site PaddyPower.

Back in October, PaddyPower put Atlanta’s odds of landing Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters at 2-to-1, beating Austin (3-to-1) and Boston (6-to-1).

But as of Dec. 31, PaddyPower reports that Atlanta and Austin each share a 3-to-1 chance of landing HQ2.
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.


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 cache of emails shared with Newsweek date between 2014 and 2016, and included 67 sent from Microsoft, 63 sent from Amazon email accounts and dozens more sent from some of Seattle’s premier tech companies and others based elsewhere but with offices in Seattle, including T-Mobile and Oracle, as well as many local, smaller tech firms. The men who sent the emails have not been charged, and Newsweek is not identifying them.


The sting arrested 17 men and one woman, but only a director at Amazon and another director at Microsoft opted for a trial. The trial date has been repeatedly pushed back and is now scheduled for March 2018. None of the sex workers involved in those case were charged.


When Newsweek sought comment from Amazon this week, a spokeswoman first asked to see the emails sent by Amazon employees (unlike Microsoft, Amazon had apparently not requested the emails from authorities). Newsweek shared an Excel list with the senders’ names redacted, and when the spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment without seeing more, Newsweek emailed one full email.

Today, Amazon informed Newsweek that it is “investigating” the matter and provided this statement by email: “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.”
Now, obviously, you don't want to paint too broad of a brush.  63 bad actors out of a company with over 500,000 employees isn't necessarily terrible.   But we're not talking about trying to launch a boycott or take-down the company.

But it is to say that we need a full and complete accounting of what happened BEFORE they receive any sort of "incentive" package to move here (and our previously stated questions about the merits of the project still apply).

Finally, we'll note Amazon's response sounds familiar.

Bottom Line: This question needs to be addressed (the sooner the better).

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