Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Washington DC television station criticizes popular chat site as a danger to minors

I mentioned this briefly on my main blog, but I have since found a detailed "photo gallery" presented as a story on the website of WJLA in Washington DC, about the site "Chat Roulette", which the news story says is a "danger to kids", because of the users who typically troll the site.  The reminds me of the "Peej" scandal exposed by NBC Dateline's Chris Hansen starting in 2005, as well as the "Justin Berry" story in the New York Times a few years ago.

The link to the WJLA photo gallery (seven illustrations) is here.

"Chatroulette" links you to random people (hence "roulette") by webcam, so it isn't hard to imagine what may happen.

The report reiterated the idea that a "family computer" should be in a public area. This hardly seems practical if you have a kid in AP classes, or one with legitimate talents in areas like music or computer programming.  ("Anderson" today showed an example where a 14-year-old helped police solve a burglary of his parents' house, which he wouldn't have had the skills to do without having been left to teach himself.)

The report said that the site is protected from downstream liability by Section 230, but that would apply mainly to libel.  It sounds conceivable that a "nuisance", or a site created only for the purpose of creating harm could come under sanction. But the site would certainly appear to have legitimate uses for adults (and minors).  So the same sort of arguments already seen with COPA would appear if the site were legally challenged.

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