Sex Work and Online Platforms: What Should Regulation Do?
Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy
24 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2021
Date Written: October 23, 2020
Purpose: Assess the impact of online platforms on the sex industry, focusing specifically on direct sex work, and evaluate what approaches to platform regulation is likely to align with the interests of sex workers.
Design/methodology/approach: A review of interdisciplinary conceptual and empirical literature on sex work combined with analysis of key issues using a transaction cost framework.
Findings: Online platforms generally make sex work safer. Regulation aimed at preventing platforms from serving sex workers is likely to harm their welfare.
Research limitations/implications: Regulation of online platforms should take great care to differentiate coercive sex from consensual sex work, and allow sex workers to experiment with governance mechanisms provided by entrepreneurs.
Originality/value: The paper demonstrates how a transactions costs approach to market behavior as applied to personal services like ridesharing can also shed light on the challenges that sex workers face, partly as a result of criminalization, and the dangers of over-regulation.
Keywords: Sex Work, Transaction Costs, Online Platforms, FOSTA-SESTA, Feminism, Common Carriers
JEL Classification: L14, L86, L84, E26, Y80
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation