Chatroulete has been around for less then a year but immediately became a haven for perverts. The service was built by 17 year old Andrey Ternovskiy, from Moscow. Users with a webcam installed log in and have random conversations with people all over the world and randomly enough, you come face to face with some guy’s penis. Estimates are from 10-13 percent of Chatroulette users fit this pervert profile.
Ternovskiy just announced he wants help from law enforcement. He’s collecting IP addresses, screen shots and logos and plans to report inappropriate behavior to law enforcement, just exactly which law enforcement agency doesn’t seem to be specified. With all the international aspects, what law enforcement agency could actually handle such cases? There’s no question that many local and national pornography and indecency laws are being broken through the content being transmitted. But how would any police agency really enforce them, especially given the lack of information required to open a Chatroulette account? The victim could be in one country, the pervert in a second and the Chatroulette servers, likely in yet another. It isn’t at all clear that Ternovskiy’s collection of IP addresses is really going to GO anywhere.
The site also bears the warning:
“Broadcasting inappropriate content to minors is a violation of both US and UN law. We are actively cooperating with law enforcement agencies.”
While the video chat service has been severely criticized for its illicit content, it has also received significant notoriety for all the nudity. Jon Stewart has a made good fun of the site and SouthPark has parodied it, among others. Without all the attention over the lewd content, we may never have heard of it.
Ternovskiy, and others have made minor attempts before this to address the problem. He added a report feature banning a user if he is reported 3 times by another user. Business Insider ran a contest earlier in this year with the intent to help Chatroulette pantless predicament. The story, “Chatroulette’s Penis Problem: 8 Cunning Solutions” ran in March, but apparently none of the 8 was the right solution.
Then, in June TechCrunch reported the site was implementing a ‘penis-detection software algorithm”. (Which left me to wonder how would you like to be the guy the software “missed” ie: no penis detected. Probably way too much insight into the working of my brain there).
Ternovskiy is reportedly working a few potential partners to develop new features and figure out a way to turn it into a viable business. Meanwhile, after experiencing explosive growth since its inception 8 months ago, May was the first month visitor numbers were down. Numbers down or not, it hasn’t gone away and it seems like the attempts to remedy the penis issue are dubious at best. It appears they do more to increase publicity about the site than actually address the issue. It’s still a parental nightmare and a nearly impossible enforcement issue for police.
IMHO: In the end, the responsible party is Ternovskiy himself. As the site’s (underage) owner, he bears responsibility for the content of his site. While Ternovskiy reportedly gave little or no thought to the business application to the site when he built it. His one goal was to make it big in America.