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Amazon Attacked Over Sex Tourism EBook

9 August 2012

From The Huffington Post:

Amazon came under fire this week from Love146, a group that campaigns against child trafficking and exploitation, for selling what appeared to be a self-published e-book encouraging pedophilia overseas, “Age of Consent: A Sex Tourists Guide!” by Peter F. Friedmann.

Though the book has now been removed, questions remain about Amazon’s lack of monitoring of content published on its e-book platform.

. . . .

According to Amazon’s website, it had been on sale since October 2011, and had received 15 one-star reviews, all of which complained about its subject matter.

. . . .

Before its removal, Jo Coles, Collective Shout Officer at Love146, told The Huffington Post via email that “We have protested Amazon before and they have responded well and removed ‘The Pedophiles Guide to Love and Pleasure.’ This is one of the reasons why we are not asking people to boycott Amazon.”

. . . .

Love146’s Jo Coles says that the group’s main issue was with Amazon’s open acceptance policy for self-published e-books. “Self-publishing platforms need to be more vigilant,” she wrote to us. “Screening processes should be in place so that children are not put at risk. We want to encourage Amazon to consider ways it could be protecting children going forward.”

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post


7 Comments to “Amazon Attacked Over Sex Tourism EBook”

  1. It seems that it was not only completely legal in its content, it was actually one of those infamous “print a list of stuff from Wikipedia, name it something provocative, steal a cover image, sell it for a ripoff price” books.

  2. I saw that letter writing campaign. And I’m all for protecting children. But when I went to the Amazon site, two things bothered me about it. While I don’t agree with the content of the book, and I can see how it might be a concern with people wanting sex in foreign countries, it seemed legal content, and all it was doing is telling travelers the age limit restrictions so they wouldn’t get in trouble while traveling. IOW, it was seeking to keep people legal if they were going to do it.

    But the other thing that bothered me was in the also boughts, I saw books that looked far worse in that regard, that appeared to actually be promoting and enabling the kind of child prostitution going on. I wondered why this particular book was being singled out, and dealt with first when it appeared there were much worse books out there.

    The answer probably has something to do with popularity. Though I saw some of the other books with as low of sales rankings. To be consistant, the group is going to have to pester Amazon over many book titles. And my guess is, by the time those are taken down, another crop will have come up.

    Which is why they are arguing for a filter. Which would be good. The only problem there is, where do you draw the line? I imagine Amazon isn’t too keen on the idea of spending money on becoming moral police either, in such a subjective realm, and worry about the threat of law suits.

    Seems the better route would be to get some of those governments to raise the legal age in their countries. According to that removed book, the legal age is as low as 12 or 13 in some countries, and even no legal age limit in others.

    It’s a sticky subject. And one that probably isn’t going away any time soon, because there aren’t too many easy answers for this type of behavior. I imagine the people buying that book will simply start buying the other similar books on Amazon and other retailers that still offer the book Amazon took down.

  3. “Seems the better route would be to get some of those governments to raise the legal age in their countries. According to that removed book, the legal age is as low as 12 or 13 in some countries, and even no legal age limit in others.”

    I mean, yes, obviously that is the better route, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. And if you have done any work with sex trafficking organizations, you will know that children are very often trafficked, so raising the age of consent, while helpful, isn’t going to make the problem go away. They may be of legal age to consent, but they may not be there legally, if you know what I mean.

    I totally agree with banning this book because this is essentially a guide telling how to victimize children who have probably already been kidnapped (which IS illegal, although usually not enforced in these cases).

    “Legal” is a very loaded term in the case of child prostitution.

    • I agree, Fiona, that it will be difficult to get all those countries to raise their legal ages, and that doing so if successful won’t stop child trafficking. And it may be this book is turning up in a large percentage of cases (no evidence I’ve seen suggest such, only that it has contributed to it, but no evidence or support given). And I would both consider the idea of having sex with minors and providing information on where that is legal to do so immoral and ban-worthy information.

      Only problem, banning this book from Amazon will do less to stop the flow of child porn/sex than raiding legal ages would. One, obviously the info is available out there to be had. Two, there are countless other book on Amazon that give the same info…are they going after Amazon about those too? Three, this only takes it off Amazon. A big player, yes, but certainly not the only one, and internationally not as big as in the USA. So there will be other places to get this book.

      So I guess while I agree the book is worth taking down, I don’t see that it accomplishes a whole lot. It’s like using a measuring cup to fend off flood waters from entering your home. To be effective, it would have to: 1. Take the book down from virtually all retail outlets, at least on the Internet, 2. Take down all related type books from Amazon and all retailers on the Internet. 3. Get all retailers to filter out self-published books that contain child pornography, something they’ll be slow to adopt, if ever, because it cost them much more money to do that than to respond to take down requests.

      If this were the only book like it and only sold at Amazon, then the effort would have some practical effect other than just being a worthy cause to get behind and do something, no matter how little difference it will make.

      • I would like to see a single group that investigates and has clout with retailers. I mean someone who will read the book and provide a clear impartial report with recommendations. It could be a report system by readers and government funded and moderated to ensure impartiality by another group. That would be a good start (and not hard to do with enough hard work. Certainly easier than sporadic letter campaigns.)

  4. I strongly agree that children should be protected. However, I do think that the current system of crowd moderation is actually working quite well. I’m not sure if the financial cost of doing a system where Amazon checks every book using a computer-based algorithm or manual system to hunt out those who are publishing inappropriate content is the best system at this point. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what we’re doing right now, I just think that it seems bad when faced with a situation like this, when suddenly people notice the problem, even though we are already doing a very good job of managing it.

  5. The age of consent in New York is 17. In New Jersey it’s 16. In Connecticut it’s 16.

    In Thailand, it’s 18.

    So, we should try to prosecute anyone who visits the metro New York City area… because they are all obviously “child sex tourists and/or traffickers”.

    Legal content should not be censored. This is not China.

    “Inappropriate content”?

    Book burning anyone?

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