It's Time To Lay Low

Anand Ramchandran

Does the Adult industry need to keep a lower profile? For Anand, the answer is "YES!" The question then becomes "How?" Here are a few of his thoughts on the subject...

I read somewhere the other day that the only use of the Internet is to promote pornography. In the last week alone, I’ve read articles in Forbes, CNN and The Online Journalism Review about the volume and legitimacy of adult porn. The barrage of articles and studies published by mainstream journalists lately leave the reader (myself included) totally clueless about the adult market and it's financial health. The point is, why do we get all the attention if we want to lay low?

Simple: Where there's honey, there’s bound to be a lot of bees. Since there isn’t much honey outside of the porn and B2B markets, it’s natural that there’s going to be a lot of gate-crashers and hustlers trying to cash in on the money.

This brings a lot of attention, especially the wrong kind; like from Acacia and Ashcroft – there’s nothing much we can do about that.

What we can do is stop providing them with a gun to shoot us. What am I talking about? The main gripes that people have against the porn industry are divided into three areas:

1. Unauthorized access to porn for children – People are pissed off that kids have such free access to porn. Sure, kids don’t give a damn about the disclaimers and go right through. But the adult pop-ups showing up in non-adult programs and gaming sites give a valid look to the whole argument that online porn is getting out of hand. Stop showing these pop-ups on non-adult sites and we help cut off the argument at its root. They can’t say that we’re doing anything wrong; morally or legally.

2. Spam – This is a much more serious issue in terms of causing inconvenience as well as a massive loss of resources. It has to be agreed that adult product promoters are primarily responsible for spam; I gave up use of two email accounts which I used for more than five years because I couldn’t separate all the spam from legitimate mail. The worst offenders are Viagra and online porn promoters. We cannot leave it to the law to sort it out. By the time they do, the laws will have all but killed many legitimate means of advertising, and to a certain extent, doing any sort of adult business at all on the Net.

What needs to be done is that chronic spammers should be isolated and cut off from the rest of the adult companies; we should stop linking to them or doing business with them. Also, we will need to develop some basic coordination between ISPs, web hosts and adult providers to allow legitimate bulk mail through while stopping spammers. It wouldn’t hurt to update the web hosts with member lists of those who are going to be receiving mail; the web hosts would then transfer the data to their ISP, which would allow bulk mail only to those in the list. The whole process can be automated with standard scripts in a secure environment and would help cut off the spammers.

3. Credit card fraud – Again, a potentially explosive issue which could bury the industry. Why do you think PayPal threw us out? They suddenly got a bout of religion? Nope, they figured better to cut us off before we buried their reputation. Chargebacks, illegitimate use of cards, using bogus emails to entice users to put in card details; all scaring off prospective customers from bringing out the plastic and causing billing service providers to keep us out.

How to rectify the situation? Again, we need to develop a credit rating system for the adult industry: A company will be rated based on its performance, not just because its main product falls into the adult category. Like banks verify an individual’s credit rating, billing service providers should be able to verify an adult company’s past history. Nobody’s going to come and do it for us. Develop our own rating agency, list all members with their credit histories, and then demand that all billing providers accept or reject applications based on that rating. I’m pretty sure they can’t say no.

To sum it all up, what we need is concerted and proactive measures involving technology and punishment, rather than whining about being top of the hit list. We also need to develop transparency about all aspects of our operations, pool all the data together, and then fight for our rights and focus on the job.