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@TomJHarper: Google and Facebook among giants ‘making profits’ from pop‑up brothels

Internet giants were accused of profiting from sex trafficking in Britain last night as security chiefs warned of a new wave of “pop-up brothels” sweeping the country.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) last night accused firms such as Google and Facebook of “making profits” from the trafficking of vulner­able women, many of whom end up in temporary sex clubs and massage parlours that have sprung up around the country.

The agency’s “modern slavery tsar” said web companies have become the “key enabler for the sexual exploitation of trafficked victims in the UK” and demanded action….

[UK Prime Minister] Theresa May was briefed on the growth of online sex trafficking on Wednesday at a meeting of the modern slavery taskforce — established by the prime minister.

Last night senior government sources said ministers are considering new laws to make internet giants such as Google and Facebook liable when human traffickers use their sites to “pimp” their victims to potential clients.

Downing Street officials said that May and Matt Hancock, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, are examining landmark legislation being passed in America that for the first time would make technology firms and social media giants responsible if they publish content that leads to trafficking.

In a statement issued by Downing Street, May said…”As the hosts of user-generated content, internet companies can and should be doing more to ­prevent trafficking-related material from appearing on their platforms.”

Will Kerr, the NCA’s head of vulnera­bilities, said…“It is clear that the internet platforms which host and make a profit out of this type of material need to do more to identify and stop these forms of exploitation.”

The US laws, which were resisted for months by the Internet Association, an organisation funded by Google, Facebook and others, will overturn more than 20 years of blanket immunity afforded to web companies that profit from criminality on their sites.

Read the post on The Sunday Times of London (free registration)

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