Love & Sex Magazine

Red Umbrella Hosting

By Maggiemcneill @Maggie_McNeill

With the advent of FOSTA, all the rats who’ve feasted on sex workers’ dollars for years are deserting the sinking ship and leaving us to drown.  I don’t just mean the ad sites who have closed; several of the companies who’ve been happy to host adult sites for years suddenly threw their customers to the wolves last week without warning, and you can be sure more will follow suit (or be forced to follow suit when their site is stolen by jackbooted thugs as Backpage was on Friday).  So when I saw that Missy Mariposa had set up a new offshore hosting company specifically for sex workers, I asked her for a short introduction for those who might need her services.

I decided to set up Red Umbrella Hosting because I am sick of the very people who utilize our services trying to criminalize our existence.  I wanted workers to have a place to turn where they could feel safe and remain anonymous.  With Red Umbrella, sex workers can secure hosting and web design assistance without having to tie this life to their real identity or without having to worry if they were evading a ToS policy and at risk of being shut down.  I keep no user data, and I have a very liberal ToS.  Red Umbrella is my attempt for us to feel like we have a little bit of control over our careers and lives again.  Right now it’s just hosting, and a free blacklist (opening this week in conjunction with another site – you heard it here first) but I’m hoping to expand it to include Cloud Storage in the not so distant future.  I wish I could drop everything and invest unlimited funds in this and build an internet sex work utopia, but I think for one person that’s an impossible undertaking.

I chose to locate the dedicated server in Iceland primarily for three reasons – strict data privacy laws, no MLAT with the United States, and a proven record of protecting privacy.  It is true that they run the Nordic model when it comes to sex work, however they are also open about the fact their laws aren’t enforced due to a lack of funding and being short staffed.  Between 2009-2013 Icelandic courts only heard 20 cases related to sex work; I also could not find any evidence of them interfering with a sex worker’s internet presence.  In the end, I went with the country that I felt had an overall better track record with internet privacy and security, the country I thought would be the least likely to turn over data to the US without a warrant (as the CLOUD act allows them to attempt).  And as I keep no personal information, I am hoping that this type of situation is never even an issue for my users.

My long term goal is to help as many people as I can.  I am one person leasing a dedicated server, not a large company with a farm (maybe that’s where this is heading though, and I hear Iceland is beautiful), but thanks to a number of generous donations (including two very large ones from clients), my prices are very low for providers:  Managed WordPress: $200/year, paid annually, semi-annually, or quarterly via cryptocurrency or gift card; Domain Hosting $300/year (same terms), and Premium Hosting for $800/year (same terms).  Websites are too important not to have; most of our clients book us because of our marketing material, websites being a big part of that.  If sex workers lose their storefronts and safety tools, two things are going to happen.  Number one, the predators will come out to play and in full force; the guys on the blacklists are going to know they’re gone and go right back to the very things that landed them there in the first place.  Number two, sex work is going to be pushed right back onto the streets and hotel bars by women who will no longer want to see internet clientele and would rather take the risks freelancing.  I can’t idly sit around, doing nothing while people lose the ability to feed their families in the safest way possible.Red Umbrella Hosting


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