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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Staff Editorial

Internet sensation runs risk of aiding sexual predators

For many, is a harmless Web site.

People of all walks of life can come together and kill a few hours shooting the breeze. Musician Ben Folds even serenaded people on the popular Web site during a concert in homage to the anonymous improvisational pianist known as “Merton.”

But some people seem intent on abusing the chat service by committing sexual acts while on camera with another person.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released a statement March 8 warning parents about the dangers associated with using Chatroulette.

“An increasingly popular Web site poses a threat to Texas children by giving users – including dangerous sex offenders – an opportunity to conduct live video chats with randomly selected participants,” Abbott said in the release.

“An undercover investigation by the (Texas) Cyber Crimes Unit revealed startling results. Nearly half of the randomly selected users encountered by Cyber Crimes investigators immediately exposed themselves and conducted sexually explicit acts on camera.”

Chatroulette does not make its users to register, instead allowing people to chat anonymously. As Abbott pointed out, this makes the site a prime target for all kinds of sex offenders who can freely break the law without fear of repercussion.

Safeguards need to be put into place not just to protect children, but also to ensure that everyone who logs on has a pleasant experience. People interested in using Chatroulette should be required to register so that they can be banned or even arrested if they misuse the service in an illegal way.

Anyone caught exposing themselves in any situation should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law; people who do so on Chatroulette should be no exception.

Chatroulette’s administrators need to be more aware of what users are doing in front of the camera. Not just for children, but for anyone who doesn’t want that kind of surprise.

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