In case you haven’t heard, less than two weeks ago a federal judge realized that a line had to be drawn between the right of children not to be subjected to pornography and the right of adults to free speech.
What does this mean for escorts?
Most escort sites have a disclaimer/warning page. They never know if it’s enough, if it’s effective or even necessary. This new ruling is good news. Yes, disclaimers are necessary and effective, at least from the angle of restricting access to minors.
But…there’s always a but…
Although escort sites probably don’t fall into the category of commercial adult sites, like porn sites, escorts would do well to follow the advice of commercial adult Web masters. If you’re an escort who has a membership/pay section, you really need to pay attention to this ruling because it applies to you.
What you need to do
If at all possible, register your site with content-filtering associations and services. A good place to start is with the associations listed in the footer of this blog. This new ruling was based on the information that these filtering services are 95% effective at blocking adult content from minors.
Further compliance is built-in with a disclaimer/warning page that makes it clear you restrict the access of your site to those of a certain age. Although 18 is a standard “adult” age, most escorts don’t court 18-year-old clients so go ahead and up your age to 21. You (the Web site owner), are not responsible for anyone who chooses to circumvent your clearly stated viewing restrictions.
If you feel like making sure that all site visitors are of age, you can download a simple age-verification script and install it on your disclaimer. Again, this is to prove that you’ve done everything in your power to keep your content accessible only to adults. If someone lies about their age to gain access to your site, you cannot be held responsible.
Your disclaimer is not magic
Your disclaimer cannot protect you from police.
It could protect you from a lawsuit by an angry parent.
It provides a convenient place for extended copyright notices.
It does not automatically fulfill the requirements of USC 2257.
This law is worthy of a whole other blog post, which will follow. To gain an understanding of USC 2257, you can read the full text of the law at Cornell Law School. And, here’s an opinion piece on USC 2257 that explains the absurdity of the law as it applies to adult Web masters and models.
Should you worry?
With the millions of sex sites online right now, escort sites seemed to have escaped notice. That won’t be true forever. It’s actually a very simple thing to make your site compliant with the law. Removing as much potential trouble from your life as you can is always a good idea.
Not yet updated, this article provides a good understanding of the legal line between free speech and the protection of children.
I am not a lawyer
And this post is not a legal opinion, but my understanding of the articles I’ve read online. If you need clarification on this ruling, seek the advice of an attorney familiar with Internet law and free speech rights.
Originally published 4/2/07, but due to technical issues is dated several months later.