LOS ANGELES — Webcams are an amazing tool for interpersonal communications, but their growing popularity is raising a range of legal and privacy concerns surrounding users around the world; especially those enjoying webcams within an adult context.
Issues of appropriate legal age, and indeed, questions concerning the very existence of applicable laws within many webcam performer’s jurisdictions, complicate a situation where the exact identity of whom is on the other end of the cam is uncertain, dangerous, and perhaps not readily provable.
For consumers, relying on the due diligence of professional cam company operators is not necessarily a guarantee that the cam channel they are watching is not illegal child pornography, due to the widespread availability of fraudulent IDs, as well as the differing standards for legitimate identification which may be found in the third-world countries where many adult webcam performers operate from — and where adult webcam-derived earnings may mean the difference between hope and hunger.
One such region is the Philippines, which is notorious for fraudulent ID documents and which is undergoing a widely publicized anti-porn program centered on webcams.
“Many performers do not have passports or driver’s licenses — just the postal ID cards that are commonly used for identification there,” Barry from XLoveCam.com recently posted on GFY.com. “It is rare for a model to have two forms of government issued identification there and of course fake IDs are a commodity in abundant supply.”
Barry also noted that most cam sites today are being strict on performer IDs in order to avoid any allegations that underage performers appear on their network — providing an increasing level of scrutiny that can affect a company’s bottom line, but prevent it from costly court battles — or worse.
Abbie from LiveCamCash.com followed up Barry’s GFY posting by revealing that her company also initiated similar changes several months ago, due to substantial issues whereby a performer would sign up and submit their valid ID, but another performer that had not submitted a valid ID would attempt to work in the legitimate performer’s place.
“This ‘switch’ game happened with every [Philippines-based] studio,” Abbie stated. “[It was] not worth the risk at all to us.”
The situation makes for a challenging environment where operators may be forced to monitor thousands of channels for fraudulent or other illegal activity — and have to pull the plug when something untoward is detected — or even have to make blanket closures.
In a prepared statement entitled “Asian Homepage Closure,” adult webcam MyFreeCams.com (MFC) notified its users that effective October 31, 2011, the company would be closing its popular Asian Homepage section, which featured models from the Philippines. MFC further noted that its Asian Lounge would be closed immediately.
“This immediate change was required for legal reasons and there was nothing we could do to avoid it,” the statement read. “We are truly sorry.”
While the company cannot provide any further details, it noted that all models will be paid everything they are owed and that MFC would provide those models with additional support and assistance during this difficult transition.
“Our deepest apologies to both our models and our members for this very sad news,” the statement concluded. “We did everything we could.”
It appears MFC not only did “everything” it could do, it did “the right thing.”
In the evolving world of live webcams, such defining lines are not always so clear.