Feeds

Irish politicos try to cut off call girls' mobiles

Seven deadly SIMs

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The simplest and most effective way to crack down on prostitutes is to take their mobile phones away - so said Denis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim) during Dáil justice questions last week.

Naughten claimed that one of the conclusions of Operation Quest - a dedicated Garda operation against brothel-keeping - was that "mobile phones are the lifeblood of this country’s brothel-keeping and prostitution industry".

This claim receives support from cases such as that of the Kildare woman, found guilty in 2007 of managing a city centre brothel with an estimated annual turnover of €4m.

The business appeared to rely on ads placed on websites or in magazines, directing prospective customers to untraceable "prepay" or "ready to go" numbers across all networks.

A search of a related premises turned up 35 mobiles, of which 32 were switched on and being answered by two women employed as "receptionists", directing customers to the brothel.

According to Detective Sergeant Holohan, who played a key role in this investigation, the prostitution industry was "extremely reliant on mobile phones". Within two days 14 numbers used by the seized phones were back up and running.

While there is no reason to doubt the police view of how the industry is currently structured, basic economics suggests that merely attacking the medium through which a message is conveyed will have little impact on the underlying business.

In the 1990s, British Telecom cracked down on the practice of distributing cards that advertised sexual services in town centre phone boxes, and blocked the phone numbers listed on the cards. Most of the cards have now disappeared – along with the phone boxes – but according to recent surveys, prostitution remains buoyant.

Naughten’s remarks need to be taken in the context of a much broader drive toward tackling prostitution across Europe. He said: "A crackdown on brothel-keeping and prostitution is taking place in other parts of Europe.

"Red-light districts in the Netherlands are being reduced by one-third because the authorities in that country have decided that their liberal policies are failing.

"New legislation that is being introduced in the UK will lead to a clampdown in that country. Unless we are prepared to tighten this country’s laws, there could be a growth in this industry here... it will be a more lax regime."

The debate focuses on the level of trafficking that goes on – with advocates on each side producing wildly different estimates of the size of the problem.

In addition, those opposed to prostitution point to the dreadful and exploited conditions of those who work as prostitutes, whether trafficked or not: those who support the further liberalisation of the trade argue that criminalisation itself is one of the main reasons why conditions are so bad, cutting women off from state support, and preventing those who are happy to earn their livelihoods "immorally" from doing so easily.

Pressure has been growing in many parts of the Western world to criminalise the act of paying for sex: a Bill before the UK Parliament – the UK Policing & Crime Bill – would, in its original form, have had the effect of criminalising men for having sex with a trafficked woman.

This wording has now been watered down in response to criticism that the strict liability nature of the offence made whether an individual broke the law or not almost wholly dependent on the veracity of another. ®

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.