Has Yahoo Been Affected by New 2257 Rules?

Rhett Pardon
SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Yahoo may be impacted by new record-keeping rules that are set to go into effect tomorrow.

The search-engine giant has pulled all user-created chat rooms that have historically included anonymous photos and streaming images and ad bots that deluge users with messages that typically direct to adult sites.

Attorney J.D. Obenberger told XBiz that it could be possible that Yahoo counsel “may be speculating” some kind of 2257 tie-in.

While Yahoo is not an Internet service provider that is exempt from new 2257 rules, it does, however, sell millions of dollars in advertising through paid search listings to online adult companies.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo declined to comment to XBiz on Wednesday for this article.

On Friday, the search engine’s chat page posted that “the ability to publish user-created chat rooms in the public Yahoo chat directory is currently unavailable. We are working on improvements to this service to enhance the user experience and compliance with our terms of service."

Yahoo has recently faced mounting criticism, including a federal lawsuit, relative to its chat room service.

Houston television station KPRC reported last month that major sponsors, including PepsiCo Inc., State Farm Insurance and Georgia-Pacific Corp., pulled their ads after their investigation found the companies that were funding Yahoo chat rooms aimed at sex with children.

Subsequently, Houston lawyer Adam Voyles filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against Yahoo on behalf of a victim of child pornography.

Yahoo’ move is being noticed by millions of Internet surfers worldwide who are outraged that their favorite chat rooms were shut down along with the sex-themed rooms.

“I can understand why Yahoo shut down the chat rooms,” web surfer Jamie Moff told XBiz. “They are basically unsupervised, and it is pretty easy to post a photo — whether obscene or not, too young or whatever.”

Moff, a Los Angeles jazz musician who spends a great amount of time cruising Yahoo and America Online in chat rooms, agreed that the new record-keeping requirements imposed for the adult industry could ultimately broaden to other Internet companies.

“All of the images you see on Yahoo are based on their servers, not the individuals’ computers,” Moff said. “So, of course, they must have been told by the Justice Department to clean up their act.”