Tag: Child Pornography

Omegle Adam Horowitz Law

Omegle: The Dangers of the Stranger-Friendly Chatroom

In late November 2021, a 19-year-old woman filed a $20 million lawsuit against Omegle, a free online chat website, claiming the site matched her with a sexual predator when she was 11.

The suit states that in 2014, a man in his late 30s matched with the claimant on Omegle, promising to help her “feel better.” For the next three years, the man forced the claimant to perform sexual acts for him and his friends by threatening to release her photos and videos, the lawsuit reads.

In 2018, Canadian police raided the man’s home and found over 3,000 files of child pornography, which included over 200 photos and videos of the claimant. The man subsequently pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and communicating with a person under 18.

This recent lawsuit, paired with similar stories of children being groomed and abused by predators on Omegle, has raised questions about the safety and security of the web-based chatroom.

Omegle: What It Is and Who’s Using It

Omegle, founded in 2009, touts itself as “a great way to meet new friends.” With the words “talk to strangers” positioned across the top of its webpage, the web-based chatroom grants users the ability to communicate with anyone from anywhere. The online application randomly pairs users together in anonymous chatrooms where they communicate via text or video. Omegle does not verify users’ age, nor does it require users to provide email, phone numbers, or social media accounts.

Omegle is designed so that users can meet strangers quickly. Once a user wants to end an interaction, they can hit the “stop button” and be placed in another room with a different user.

While Omegle was developed more than a decade ago, the pandemic and the emergence of TikTok, has increased the online chatroom’s popularity with children. According to reports, the site grew globally from 34 million monthly visits in January 2020 to 65 million in January 2021. Reports also show that on TikTok alone, videos that are tagged with “Omegle” were watched more than 9.4 billion times.

Omegle generally requires users to be at least 18 years old, but users 13 and up can still use the app with parental permission and supervision. Additionally, no registration or age verification is needed to use the application—which has, in part, spawned concerns about the application’s safety.

Safety Concerns: Anonymous Matching and No Age Verification

While Omegle’s “talk to strangers” tagline has raised red flags for some, the website’s randomized matching and lack of verification systems have given rise to public scrutiny.

Firstly, Omegle does not allow users to report, flag, or block chats that are inappropriate or harmful interactions. “Users are solely responsible for their behavior,” the site’s homepage states. Additional sources say that at one point, Omegle’s response to harmful interactions was to “disconnect if anyone makes you feel uncomfortable.” To combat these interactions, the company claims it moderates rooms, however, the site also states that “no moderation is perfect.” Users also have the choice of entering “unmoderated rooms.”Omegle Adam Horowitz Law

The anonymity and the lack of meaningful safeguards create an environment where users can engage in “prurient interests” with little to no consequence. According to sources, users go to Omegle “when they’re horny and looking for fun.”

When questioned about the sexual content on Omegle, which includes advertisements for porn, the Omegle CEO stated, “Omegle isn’t intended for prurient interests, and when adults visit Omegle with that intent, it makes more sense to direct them somewhere more suitable.” However, in a report by the BBC, researchers said that within the span of one two-hour session, Omegle connected them with “12 masturbating men, eight naked males and seven porn adverts.” Researchers also said they were paired with two young boys masturbating on live chats.

Critical Implications

These reports illuminate how easy it is for children to be exposed to adult content, given Omegle failure to register its users or verify their ages. This presents a problem, especially since it’s widely known that child predators use Omegle to meet and groom children.

According to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), researchers have found internet material created by child predators who have “captured and distributed footage from Omegle.” Despite these findings and reports of child abuse, Omegle has only cautioned its users rather than identify and prevent abusive users, sources say. Up until May 2021, Omegle’s homepage warned users that “predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.”

Cyber security experts have cautioned users and parents alike about the risks of using Omegle. Since the pandemic, a cybercrimes task force in Missouri says cybercrime tips have increased exponentially. A representative from the task force says the lack of verification measures grants predators access to children looking for social interaction. “These predators are so good about finding weaknesses and how to get through to them,” the task force said.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sex crime initiated through Omegle or other apps or social media, contact us at (888) 283-9922 or e-mail sexual abuse lawyer, Adam Horowitz today.

Broward Coutnty lawyer pleads guilty to child pornography charge

022416+david+rothenbergOn June 16, 2016, David Rothenberg, a lawyer in Broward County, age 47, pled guilty to a federal charge of possessing child pornography.

On February 20, 2016, Rothenberg was arrested on a federal charge of possessing more than 1,000 child pornography images and videos, including several involving violent treatment of young children. According to the Sun Sentinel, Rothenberg was caught communicating in an online chat room for “daddaughtersex” with an undercover police officer who posed as a mom who might consider letting Rothenberg have sex with her underage daughter.

Rothenberg admitted to using the internet at the Fort Lauderdale law firm where he worked and his Margate home to chat and send child pornography video links to the undercover officer. Additionally, he told the undercover officer that he was abusing another underage girl. The girl later told police that Rothenberg had been abusing her for years.

Rothenberg still faces charges of sexual battery and molestation.

Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits on behalf of victims of sexual abuse, including cases related to the transmission of child pornography. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

Broward Sheriff’s Office Sergeant arrested for child pornography

cfimg3419451465677008142Sergeant Kreg Costa of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office was arrested on June 9, 2016 on twenty-nine child sex-related charges, including child pornography, using a computer attempting to lure a child into sex, and sexual assault.

Costa began working for the Broward Sheriff’s Office in 1999.  The Public Corruption Unit launched an investigation in April 20156 after staff in the Weston district reported Costa staying in his office during night shifts with the lights off and his uniform and gun belts removed. Investigators found that Costa used his work-issued computer to watch hardcore pornography, including incest-related and bondage-related pornography. Investigators further found that Costa exchanged sexually explicit messages and videos with a 16 year old girl from California via Twitter and email. On April 24th, as the investigation continued, Costa was suspended with pay and his badge and gun were taken from him. On June 9th, Costa was arrested and suspended without pay.

Costa is being held in the Broward County Main Jail without bond. A court date has not yet been set.

Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits on behalf of victims of sexual abuse, including cases related to the transmission of child pornography. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.