Archive for January 8th, 2018

I recently received an email from the ladies at MatureSensual, an advertising site for escorts over 40, about changes they’re making to head off the growing persecution of escort advertising sites by the US government.  I thought there were a lot of important points, so I asked Liana of MatureSensual to do this article for me.  If you want more information, contact @maturesensual on Twitter and Jaeleen will answer you, or go to this site and Liana will send you more on February 1st.

We are aware that there may be changes happening in the US legal system regarding the freedom to advertise our services and we’ve decided to take control of our own destiny rather than be at the mercy of these proposals – so we are going “offshore” (outside of the USA).  You may need to consider this information for yourself and determine the next steps for your internet presence.

Under a proposal from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, anyone posting or hosting digital content that leads to an act of prostitution could face serious federal prison time as well as civil penalties.  This is obviously bad news for us.  Goodlatte’s proposal was offered as an amendment to another House bill, this one from Ann Wagner, which would open digital platforms to criminal and civil liability not just for future sex crimes that result from user posts or interactions but also for past harms brokered by the platforms in some way.  So platforms that followed previous federal rules (which encouraged less content moderation in order to avoid liability) would now be especially vulnerable to charges and lawsuits.  The bill currently has 171 co-sponsors, including ample numbers of both Republicans and Democrats.

We have all made choices around how we want to promote our businesses on the internet, and as small business entrepreneurs we are fiercely independent and, of course, are extremely proud of the fact.  What our websites look like, who we link share with (our business associates), and who we will give our hard-earned money to for our paid advertising is all part of our branding and advertising strategies.  Some of you will have chosen quality products such as Wix or Squarespace or (god forbid) Vistaprint.  All are Content Management Systems (CMS); you chose a beautiful functional template, filled in the gaps, added your yummy photos, attached it to your domain and away you went, on a minimal monthly fee.  CMS is wonderful, except when you want to move your website to another hosting service – you can’t.  It isn’t part of a CMS’s business model; they like to keep you where you are “with them”.  Some of these organisations may choose to interpret these laws and disallow your services; it’s too early to know, but you should be aware.

Organisations such as SafeOffice provide premium offshore services already and will be adding CMS to their portfolio of services, but you won’t be able to import your WordPress or existing CMS site into their system.  Of course, you can copy & paste existing information into your new CMS, but basically, you will need to create it again using their templates.  Organisations such as CutieTools (also CMS) will find ways of going offshore for you.  Some of you will be familiar with WordPress – it also doesn’t import into CMS systems.  We chose to use WordPress for our website solution. If you use WordPress, you will be able to use a plugin called All-in-One to create backups and to move your wordpress to another server.  Generally it can take you two to three hours to create it on the new server and migrate it from the old server, if you have good technical skills.  We currently have approximately 30 websites that we manage, and when we moved from one server to another last year some of those websites took considerably longer than the 2 to 3 hours to migrate across.  So here’s hoping that you have kept your websites up to date with plugins, WordPress updates, and have eliminated any problems regarding viruses and hacks.  Of course you may want to do the transfer yourself; however, if you want to focus on what you do best, providing an impeccable service to your clients, you may want someone else to handle the management of your WordPress site.  You are invited to contact us ~ we’re happy to help.  These are the four points that you need to consider when making an informed choice about the future of your advertising:

(1) Hosted offshore
(2) Incorporated offshore
(3) Cannot control website from USA
(4) No company officer in USA (for subpoena)

Our business model includes the use of WordPress for our websites and we have no intention of moving away from that software.  We already have three of the four points implemented for our business model, so it was easy for us to take the next logical step and we expect to be live in the next four weeks from our new cozy home offshore.  We are also implementing a mirrored server, which we think is vital in these times; a mirrored server means if anything happens to our server, we have a duplicate ready to go and it is just a matter of changing IP addresses to a different location.  It’s very similar to what people like Pirate Bay would do to provide you a service.  Point 3 is especially important because it could mean that you cannot edit your websites from inside the USA when you take those words to their extreme meaning.  This may mean that you will need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to mask your IP address – to give the look that you are in a different location.  Unfortunately, the moment you forget to use that VPN, you put yourself at risk of being flagged.  You may also need to mask the owner of the domain name; it may be as simple as having a private domain on your website so nobody can get your information, or having the registration transferred to someone outside of the USA (we naturally have because I live outside of the USA.)  The brand remains the property of the service provider but the domain name registration is masked and handled outside of the USA.

The biggest fear for all of us will be if the US government or Internet Service Providers (ISP) block access to selected sites; search engines like Google could decide to exclude adult content in search results, and ISPs could block access to certain domains/IPs.  Authoritarian countries do this all the time, and as things stand now in the US, First Amendment rights may be abrogated.  Further moves in this direction would force all of us to go underground, creating a more dangerous environment for everyone.  We have decided to protect every website we currently host by editing these WordPress sites offshore or with a VPN; if it becomes absolutely necessary to edit and maintain websites outside of the US, we already have everything in place.  I can also see that there will be a sliding scale on the cost of editing and managing the website; it will be a monthly charge depending on the number of changes you like to make to your site.  Some people like to set and forget others like to constantly tweak their offerings – pricing will be reflective of those choices.  At present, all our websites at a minimum are edited on a monthly basis and to keep all plugins and WordPress databases up to date.  Whenever changes are submitted, naturally all relevant updates are applied.  All our websites are backed up twice a day and quality virus protection software to protect our sites.  I would expect you would be paying $200-$240 USD for annual hosting fees for a quality server that can deliver your content to the US; I would further expect the transferring of your site from one server to another could cost you approximately $200 USD depending on the condition of your website and how you have managed it.  Everything needs to come down to the cost of doing business and how you want to do your business.  You need to fore-armed with information and make your choices and then successfully implement them whichever way you choose.

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