The world's oldest profession is adopting a new business model; street-walkers are heading to the information highway.
A first-ever study of the U.S. sex industry shows that many prostitutes prefer to make transactions over the Internet now, where rates are higher and they are less vulnerable to arrest or assault.
"There is still street activity, but on the Internet they do not have to operate in the shadows," said Meredith Dank, senior research associate of the Urban Institute, which carried out the survey for the U.S. Justice Department.
"The Internet is also more lucrative, there is a higher price point," said Dank, lead author of the study on the economics of the underground sex industry.
The five-year study focused on eight cities—Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington—and was based on interviews with prostitutes and pimps in all venues including massage parlors, brothels and escort services. It did not include the pornographic movie industry, which is legal.