The situation

The digitalisation of the public and private spheres in Europe is exacerbated by global market competition and the COVID-19 pandemic. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are becoming ever more widespread amongst general populations as well as sex workers. While this digitalisation brings many benefits to sex workers' lives and changes their working habits, new threats are emerging due to harmful laws governing sex work, digital spaces and the weaponisation of these technologies. Additionally, technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) are already being deployed in many European countries, and their use is expected to increase due to the EU's aim to become a 'leader' in this area. The adoption of these technologies brings potential risks that civil society has to address to safeguard the human rights of marginalised and criminalised communities.

In order to counter the potential harms of digitalisation, ESWA works on areas relevant to sex workers. Some of the intersecting topics for sex workers in Europe and Central Asia when it comes to digital rights are: 

  • Online censorship and digital discrimination
  • Data protection and online privacy 
  • Digitally facilitated violence, including hate speech and image-based abuse
  • Platformisation of sex work and labour rights
  • Weaponisation of new technologies and practices, including AI use in anti-trafficking and mass surveillance tools