Chatroulette is Shockingly (Fill in the Blank) – Is It Legal?


Author: Lowell Steiger

Published On: May 13, 2010

What is ChatRoulette? 

Sam Anderson describes it perfectly as “a new website that brings you face-to-face, via webcam, with an endless stream of random strangers all over the world” in his New York Magazine article The Human Shuffle. 

I stumbled upon www.chatroulette.com quite by accident when perusing www.oddee.com and found 18 Funny ChatRoulette Screenshots. While I don’t think they were necessarily funny, they were quite interesting. Screenshots ranged from a justifiably angry African-American fellow being linked up with a young Arian whose room was adorned with a Nazi Swastika flag (not funny) to a young woman screaming in horror when her chat partner donned a humorously terrifying mask.

What is this modern technological miracle? And, is it legal?

Apparently Fox News is worried that ChatRoulette will become a haven for child predators. In his Fox News Article Chatroulette Is ‘Predators’ Paradise’, Joshua Rhett Miller observes that “One minute you’re chatting via webcam with a mom of two from Montauk, N.Y. — and the next you’re staring at a stark-naked man in Bangkok.” The site demands that you swear to be 16 years of age or older before it will let you log on. However, there is no safeguard to ensure that those who attest to being over 16 are actually over 16.

The legal issues are very complex because we’re dealing with international cyberlaw, extradition, who is breaking what laws in which countries.

Maureen Rogers, blogging in Pink Slip, says that “It sounds like the perfect milieu for snuff [films], kiddie porn, suicide, animal torture… Which means that, as a business, it would need to be monitored and run by someone other than a 17 year old kid. And that someone should have deep pockets, because it’s hard to believe that there won’t be lawsuits popping up at some point.”

A Movie About Chatroulette 

A fellow by the name of Casey Neistat posted A Movie About Chatroulette on the clever site Rubbishcorp. The movie is well worth watching.

Meanwhile, prudence dictates that parents monitor what their kids are doing on the Internet because there are undoubtedly going to be some shockers emanating from the servers of Chatroulette.

Chatroulette will ultimately be the focus of some sort of litigation – stay tuned!

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I’m passionate about representing my injured clients. I'm a Personal injury lawyer who treats you with the respect that you deserve.

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