PEPPR is a mobile web-App (www.peppr.it) that lets you book sexual and erotic entertainment near you. In short, PEPPR is a booking application that helps independent sex workers to manage their bookings.
Pia Victoria Poppenreiter, born in Austria, living in Berlin, came up with the idea, when she saw prostitutes on Oranienburger Straße waiting in the cold for clients. As the current political situation is very much influenced by the discourse to improve the working conditions of sex workers, it was a logical consequence for her, to make her vision reality. Poppenreiter researched the field extensively, exploring the living and working conditions of the current prostitution scene in order to help her understand the challenges in the market.
Poppenreiter is a former Master student of Business Ethics at Steinbeis University of which she received a full scholarship for the study program. Also, she received a Bachelor degree in Export-oriented Mangagement from the IMC University of Applied Science Krems. She gained experience in different industries including Investment banking at Dresdner Kleinwort, Negotiations at Continental AG and Business Development at Westwing Home and Living GmbH before founding PEPPR and taking on the role of Cief Executive Officer.
On 21st January 2014 she founded the company peppr IT GmbH together with Florian Hackenberger and Shahak Shapira. Her co-founder, serial entrepreneur Florian Hackenberger is an Austrian computer scientist. Her second co-founder, Israeli, is the award-winning creative director Shahak Shapira.
Cooperation with sex workers and agencies
The sex workers may publish their profiles on PEPPR. All profiles are reviewed according to internal quality standards. After reviewing the profiles, a personal phone interview is set up. For Poppenreiter it is important to have a personal interview with each potential escort in order to ensure the authenticity of the profiles and assure that the candidates work independent, are not forced or illegal prostitutes. After joining the platform, they are called “pepprs”. Trans and intersex people are also being considered, but have not been registered yet. Currently registered on the app are “independents”, as well as escort agencies. The so-called “independents”, are sex workers, who are “agency free” prostitutes who manage their bookings by themselves. If sex workers work together with escort agencies, the booking of a “peppr” goes out to the agency and will be forwarded from there to the sex worker.
The invoice of the actual service itself does not run through the app. Merely a small booking fee is charged to the clients credit card, in order to ensure the seriousness of the booking.
Brothels or bars are not listed yet. Even streetwalkers have not been registered at this stage. During the work it became clear that high-priced escorts want to differentiate themselves from sex workers who are visible on streets/roads.
the vision of this app is a real opportunity to break the domination of crime and risk structures and has the power to change one of most dangerous professions in the world sustainably
Strict hierarchy still prevails in prostitution: At the top rank, there are the escorts. Those are sex workers in the usually higher-priced segment that visit clients at home, at hotels and/or offer travel companion, followed by sex workers who work in brothels and bars and at the bottom of the pyramid are the street prostitutes.
Although PEPPR could accommodate the entire spectrum, focus has been placed on a targeted rollout.
Operation and booking
The app is a location based web app that lists available sex workers within a close area.
The booking process from the perspective of a client is as follows:
In three steps a client may book erotic entertainment by going to the mobile-web site (www.peppr.it) and entering preferences in the filter. After reviewing the list, one may want to find out more about the so-called “peppr” and therefore reviews the profile. If the criteria matches the expectations, a booking request may be sent. At this point, the client has to enter the credit card details in order so ensure seriousness (safety feature). The sex worker may accept, decline or offer a phone conversation. If the sex worker accepts the booking, a fee will be charged to the credit card of the client .
A web app was chosen as it is very safe to assume that Apple or Google would not accept such an app in the stores. Other reasons were a short development time and the possibility to use the app without installation on the phone in order to ensure anonymity.
PEPPR heavily uses operating concepts of the user experience of a native app. For instance, it is possible to save the page as an icon on the homescreen.
PEPPR is “mobile first” designed, that is – if compromises must be made, then always in favor of the mobile offering.
All access to the app is encrypted with SSL. PEPPR does not store the data entered for payments on their own systems, but forwards them immediately to their payment provider and therefore no longer has access to the information.
The launch of the app gained a heavy media coverage. Numerous newspapers, television reports and other media in more than 140 nations reported about his innovation.
Most of the newspapers referred to the press release, which was published in “Gründerszene”  on 14th April, 2014.
Of particular note of the (online-)newspapers were: Time Magazine , La Repubblica , Huffington Post , NY Post  , Golem , Netzpiloten , SZ now! .
The app garnered positive reviews from end users and critics, as well as from the press and the sex worker.
Uniformly tenor was that the vision of this app is a real opportunity to break the domination of crime and risk structures and has the power to change one of most dangerous professions in the world sustainably and could revolutionary improve the living and working conditions of sex workers.
PEPPR’s headquarter is in Berlin. Branches in other countries are planned.
== Links ==
https://peppr.it/#!/ – Homepage
US Blacklist of Chinese Surveillance Companies Creates Supply Chain Confusion
The United States Department of Commerce’s decision to blacklist 28 Chinese public safety organizations and commercial entities hit at some of China’s most dominant vendors within the security industry. Of the eight commercial entities added to the blacklist, six of them are some of China’s most successful digital forensics, facial recognition, and AI companies. However, the two surveillance manufacturers who made this blacklist could have a significant impact on the global market at large—Dahua and Hikvision.
Putting geopolitics aside, Dahua’s and Hikvision’s positions within the overall global digital surveillance market makes their blacklisting somewhat of a shock, with the immediate effects touching off significant questions among U.S. partners, end users, and supply chain partners.
Frost & Sullivan’s research finds that, currently, Hikvision and Dahua rank second and third in total global sales among the $20.48 billion global surveillance market but are fast-tracking to become the top two vendors among IP surveillance camera manufacturers. Their insurgent rise among IP surveillance camera providers came about due to both companies’ aggressive growth pipelines, significant product libraries of high-quality surveillance cameras and new imaging technologies, and low-cost pricing models that provide customers with higher levels of affordability.
This is also not the first time that these two vendors have found themselves in the crosshairs of the U.S. government. In 2018, the U.S. initiated a ban on the sale and use of Hikvision and Dahua camera equipment within government-owned facilities, including the Department of Defense, military bases, and government-owned buildings. However, the vague language of the ban made it difficult for end users to determine whether they were just banned from new purchases of Dahua or Hikvision cameras or if they needed to completely rip-and-replace existing equipment with another brand. Systems integrators, distributors, and even technology partners themselves remained unsure of how they should handle the ban’s implications, only serving to sow confusion among U.S. customers.
In addition to confusion over how end users in the government space were to proceed regarding their Hikvision and Dahua equipment came the realization that both companies held significant customer share among commercial companies throughout the U.S. market—so where was the ban’s line being drawn for these entities? Were they to comply or not? If so, how? Again, these questions have remained unanswered since 2018.
Hikvision and Dahua each have built a strong presence within the U.S. market, despite the 2018 ban. Both companies are seen as regular participants in industry tradeshows and events, and remain active among industry partners throughout the surveillance ecosystem. Both companies have also attempted to work with the U.S. government to alleviate security concerns and draw clearer guidelines for their sales and distribution partners throughout the country. They even established regional operations centers and headquarters in the country.
While blacklisting does send a clearer message to end users, integrators, and distributors—for sales and usage of these companies’ technologies—remedies for future actions still remain unclear. When it comes to legacy Hikvision and Dahua cameras, the onus appears to be on end users and integrators to decide whether rip-and-replace strategies are the best way to comply with government rulings or to just leave the solutions in place and hope for the best.
As far as broader global impacts of this action, these will remain to be seen. While the 2018 ban did bring about talks of similar bans in other regions, none of these bans ever materialized. Dahua and Hikvision maintained their strong market positioning, even achieving higher-than-average growth rates in the past year. Blacklisting does send a stronger message to global regulators though, so market participants outside the U.S. will just have to adopt a wait-and-see posture to see how, if at all, they may need to prepare their own surveillance equipment supply chains for changes to come.
After Google’s new set of community standards: What next?
After weeks of Google’s community standard guidelines made headlines, the Digital Industry Group Inc. (Australia based NGO) rejected proposals from the regulating body based in the southern hemisphere. The group claimed that regulating “fake news” would make the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission a moral police institution. In late August, Google itself forbade its employees from indulging in the dissemination of inadequate information or one that involved internal debates. From the outset, the picture is a bit confusing. After the events in Australia, Google’s latest act of disciplinary intrusion seems all but galvanizing from certain interests or interest groups.
A year earlier, Google was shaken by claims of protecting top-level executives from sexual crimes; the issue took a serious turn and almost deteriorated company operations. If anything but Google’s development from the horror of 2018 clearly suggests a desperate need from the hierarchy to curb actions that could potentially damage the interests of several stakeholders. There is no comprehensive evidence to suggest that Google had a view on how the regulations were proposed in Australia. After all, until proven otherwise, all whistleblowing social media posts and comments are at one point of time, “fake”. Although the global giant has decided to discontinue all forms of unjustifiable freedom inside its premises; however, it does profit by providing the platform for activism and all forms of censure. The Digital Industry Group wants the freedom to encourage digital creative contents, but Google’s need to publish a community guideline looks more of a defensive shield against uncertainties.
On its statement, the disciplinary clause, significantly mentions about the actions that will be taken against staffs providing information that goes around Google’s internal message boards. In 2017, female employees inside the Google office were subjected to discrimination based on the “gender-ness” of working positions. Kevin Kernekee, an ex-employee, who was fired in 2018, confirmed that staff bullying was at the core of such messaging platforms. Growing incidents inside Google and its recent community stance are but only fuelling assumptions about the ghost that is surrounding the internet giant’s reputation. Consequently, from the consumer’s point of view, an instable organization of such global stature is an alarm.
The dissidents at Google are not to be blamed entirely. As many would argue, the very foundation of the company was based on the values of expression at work. The nature of access stipulated into Google’s interface is another example of what it stands for, at least in the eyes of consumers. Stakeholders would not wish for an internal turmoil; it would be against the enormous amount of trust invested into the workings of the company. If google can backtrack from its core values upon higher forces, consumers cannot expect anything different. Google is not merely a search engine; for almost half of the internet users, it is almost everything.
“Be responsible, Be helpful, Be thoughtful”. These phrases are the opening remarks from the newly engineered community guideline. As it claims in the document, three principles govern the core values at Google. Upon closer inspection, it also sounds as if the values are only based on what it expects from the people working for the company. A global company that can resort to disciplining its staff via written texts can also trim the rights of its far-reaching consumer groups. It might only be the beginning but the tail is on fire.
How to Design Responsible Technology
Biased algorithms and noninclusive data sets are contributing to a growing ‘techlash’ around the world. Today, the World Economic Forum, the international organisation for public-private cooperation has released a new approach to help governments and businesses counter these growing societal risks.
The Responsible Use of Technology report provides a step-by-step framework for companies and governments to pin point where and how they can integrate ethics and human rights-based approaches into innovation. Key questions and actions guide organizations through each phase of a technology’s development process and highlight what can be done and when to help organizations mitigate unethical practices. Notably, the framework can be applied on technology in the ‘final’ use and application phase, empowering users to play an active role in advocating for policies, laws and regulations that address societal risks.
The guide was co-designed by industry leaders from civil society, international organizations and businesses including BSR, the Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics, the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Microsoft, Uber, Salesforce, IDEO, Deloitte, Omidyar Network and Workday. The team examined national technology strategies, international business programmes and ethical task forces from around the world, combining lessons learned with local expertise to develop a guide that would be inclusive across different cultures.
“Numerous government and large technology companies around the world have announced strategies for managing emerging technologies,” said Pablo Quintanilla, Fellow at the World Economic Forum, and Director in the Office of Innovation, Salesforce. “This project presents an opportunity for companies, national governments, civil society organizations, and consumers to teach and to learn from each other how to better build and deploy ethically-sound technology. Having an inclusive vision requires collaboration across all global stakeholders.”
“We need to apply ethics and human rights-based approaches to every phase in the lifecycle of technology – from design and development by technology companies through to the end use and application by companies across a range of industries,” said Hannah Darnton, Programme Manager, BSR. “Through this paper, we hope to advance the conversation of distributed responsibility and appropriate action across the whole value chain of actors.”
“Here, we can draw from lessons learned from companies’ efforts to implement ‘privacy and security by design,” said Sabrina Ross, Global Head of Marketplace Policy, Uber. “Operationalizing responsible design requires leveraging a shared framework and building it into the right parts of each company’s process, culture and commitments. At Uber, we’ve baked five principles into our product development process so that our marketplace design remains consistent with and accountable to these principles.”
This report is part of the World Economic Forum’s Responsible Development, Deployment and Use of Technology project. It is the first in a series tackling the topic of technology governance. It will help inform the key themes at the Forum’s Global Technology Governance Summit in San Francisco in April 2020. The project team will work across industries to produce a more detailed suite of implementation tools for organizations to help companies promote and train their own ‘ethical champions’. The steering committee now in place will codesign the next steps with the project team, building on the input already received from global stakeholders in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.
The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network brings together more than 100 governments, businesses, start-ups, international organizations, members of civil society and world-renown experts to co-design and pilot innovative approaches to the policy and governance of technology. Teams in Colombia, China, India, Israel, Japan, UAE and US are creating human-centred and agile policies to be piloted by policy-makers and legislators, shaping the future of emerging technology in ways that maximize their benefits and minimize their risks. More than 40 projects are in progress across six areas: artificial intelligence, autonomous mobility, blockchain, data policy, drones and the internet of things.
The Network helped Rwanda write the world’s first agile aviation regulation for drones and is scaling this up throughout Africa and Asia. It also developed actionable governance toolkits for corporate executives on blockchain and artificial intelligence, co-designed the first-ever Industrial IoT (IIoT) Safety and Security Protocol and created a personal data policy framework with the UAE.
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