Technology is coming to the service of the world’s oldest profession.
Peppr is a mobile application that allows hookers and clients to meet. Dubbed “Tinder for Sex Workers”, the app is available in Germany where prostitution is legal and the sex industry is worth about US$21 billion a year.
Prospective clients list their location, acknowledge that they are at least 18 years old, and select their choice of gender. They can then browse through a roster of available service providers, including their pictures, services, charges and other relevant information. The software company gets a commission of 5-10 euros (US$6.70-13.40) for every successful match.
The app also features a scoring system, similar to the one provided by online shopping site Taobao for e-tailers, which allows both hookers and clients to make comments on each other. The higher the score of the sex worker, the more business they are likely to have.
In a commentary, the Hong Kong Economic Journal says the app helps liberate the sex industry from the clutches of organized crime groups, which usually control the business.
However, prostitution is legal only in a few countries. And without legal protection, apps such as Peppr face operating risks, it said.
The commentary calls on authorities to take action to regulate the prostitution business and bring it to the “sunshine zone”.
Three key issues should be addressed: completely ban organized crime organizations from engaging in the business as they usually force innocent girls to become sex workers against their will; provide legal protection to both hookers and their clients; and take measures to reduce poverty and promote education to prevent girls from being lured into prostitution.
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