Professor Chander Comments on Chatroulette for FoxNews.com
Professor Anupam Chander commented for FoxNews.com on ChatRoulette, a social networking site that connects users for video chats with a series of random strangers. The site, described in the FoxNews.com report as an "internet sensation" that attracts "tens of thousands of videochatters at a time," has also been criticized as enabling chatters to expose themselves or otherwise broadcast offensive material. Though site users must be at least 16 and must promise not to broadcast obscene or pornographic images, the limits are easily circumvented, prompting alarm among legal authorities and child protection advocates.
Professor Chander noted that while it is relatively easy to find indecent material on ChatRoulette, the Communications Decency Act of 1996 may exempt ChatRoulette itself from civil liability, because the law has been interpreted to mean Internet service providers are not legally responsible for content posted by third-party users. Authorities would be more likely to go after individuals who post obscene material through the site, Professor Chander said, but that will likely require the intervention of federal prosecutors.
"Are any local police in Kentucky or Boston going to have the resources to chase after someone in Albania?" Professor Chander asked. "What this will inevitably involve is the federal authorities, because it is transmission of indecent material across state lines."
Professor Anupam Chander is a leading scholar in the law of globalization and digitization, and has written widely on international law, cyber law, and corporate law.