Escorts: Why its Important to Read Terms of Use & Privacy Policies

extraextraWith the passage of FOSTA and the seizure of Backpage, escorts are running scared and are worried. With bad situations comes new solutions, and some times new solutions are too good to be true. There are new websites, hosting services, apps and email services popping up everyday promising to help escorts stay safe and to protect their privacy. Some of these sites use their offshore location and hosting as a selling point. Others will try to entice you with their promises of encryption and security. Remember, they are trying to sell you, so some puffery is allowed in sales. False claims are not.

I am not a “tech guy” so I will not discuss the issue of security, however, the issue of privacy should be just as important. There seems to be some confusion over websites, apps or services that are hosted off shore and whether that will provide any protection from the prying eyes of the US government or any other government for that matter.

The answer is in that company’s Terms of Use or Service and their Privacy Policy as well as this list;

Forgetting the CLOUD Act for a moment, there is still MLAT. MLAT stands for Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. So you may ask, what is MLAT;

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) are agreements between two or more countries, which create obligations under international law for governments to assist one another in criminal investigations and prosecutions. Law enforcement officers or prosecutors use them when they need help to obtain evidence from within another country’s jurisdiction.

And what can types of information can a law enforcement officer request under MLAT;

  • obtaining witness testimony (either voluntarily or by compulsion) Note: this includes business records from websites
  • executing search warrants
  • obtaining bank records
  • freezing or forfeiting the proceeds of crime

Depending on what country that website, app or email service is located in, there may be a MLAT that would allow for your information to be subpoenaed by law enforcement. Here is a well written FAQs page about how MLAT works;

Therefore, to really understand whether your information is protected and will remain private, you should review the TOU or Privacy Policy to determine if the company will turn over your information based upon a valid subpoena or search warrant issued to that website, app or email service. Most legitimate businesses will comply with a valid subpoena from a local court or law enforcement agency. You should also research where the company is headquartered or where your information is stored. If it is in a country that has a MLAT with the country where you reside, you can assume that they will turn over your information without even telling you. You can ignore their claims that they won’t, that is puffery and you need to look at the contract that will bind them and you in all of your dealings, including when law enforcement comes knocking.

No one likes reading TOU, but in this climate it is of the utmost importance that you do, if you want your information to stay safe. Do not take anyone’s word, what someone from the company posts on Twitter, do not assume that based on an someone’s endorsement, that your information will be private and safe. Read the TOS for yourself and if you need to – get a lawyer to explain it to you.

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