Adult Video Chat Legality
If you are an American citizen. Yes. End of story. If you live in Riyadh, likely not. This article is focused on our international performers and Americans traveling internationally.
Disclaimer: Please do not treat this article as professional legal advice. If you are uncertain of the legal status in your jurisdiction, share this article with a local legal professional and follow their advice.
Adult video chat is not a well-regulated industry, it's not even a well-defined industry. It's a fractious, disjointed industry with a wide variety of operators, many of whom have very different business strategies. So taking that chaotic environment and trying to map it to hundreds of different legal jurisdictions around the world is extremely challenging. In this article, we're sharing our views and experience so far. As we get new information our views change. If we hear about a particular jurisdiction that starts cracking down on adult video chat models, we'll adjust our stance.
In general, if you substitute the terms "free speech" or "free expression," you'll find that any laws in place are largely proportional. Countries with established free speech protection in general have legal pornography. Some have specific laws stating what is allowed and what is not; others simply don't have prohibitive laws. Countries with strong restrictions on speech often have laws explicitly prohibiting any kind of pornographic material. Our view in general is that the legal environments in these countries are meant to prohibit any kind of adult video chat, even though laws explicitly prohibiting it are almost unheard of.
We use laws related to pornography as a guideline.
To define illegality is more difficult given that there are virtually no countries with laws explicitly prohibiting adult video chat. This is where it gets murky. Because there is not a commonly agreed-upon definition of pornography internationally. Most laws address physical materials like DVDs of pornographic movies. Only a few are modern enough to address internet pornography. Those that do are generally referring to what we might consider, "classic pornography." Meaning, videos of people having sex intended for commercial public distribution. You know, everything you find on PornHub. How much any of these laws apply to adult video chat is mostly unknown.
That performers can do adult video chat without ever being nude or performing erotic shows is a fact. We don't want to overstate how common this is; it's not. Very few performers have a successful career without ever doing any nude/erotic performances, but examples do exist. Where things cross into "pornography" is a difficult distinction to make internationally. Some countries would consider any nudity pornography. Others would consider explicit displays of genitalia pornography. Others would only consider actual video production with penetrative intercourse occurring to be pornography. Beyond the actual acts some have a consideration of audience size, wherein a 1-on-1 video chat between two people would not be considered pornography, but a model broadcasting a nude show where many people were observing simultaneously would be considered pornography. Where does that leave us? No one really knows. But as an American company we follow the rule of, "except where expressly prohibited."
First a note about the 18+ condition. Broadly, all of the major networks do a great job of "self-regulating" with all of them conducting age and identity verification for performers and adhering to the record-keeping compliance requirements that the United States has in place. As such, instances of underage performers are virtually unheard of on major networks. The networks have a compelling financial interest in this self-regulation, as a single violation could result in a 9-figure company ceasing to exist and its operators facing prosecution. No one under 18 is allowed to work on an adult video chat site, and among the mainstream operators, no one does. It's something everyone takes very seriously.
Now, the regional breakdown. The following areas are what we consider to be "unrestricted legal." Meaning, adult video chat is legal and there are no real restrictions on that in terms of "what performers can do individually." These regions are:
- The United States and Canada
- Central America
- South America
- Most of Europe (exceptions noted below)
- Australia and New Zealand
European Exceptions: At the time of this writing, pornography is explicitly outlawed in Belarus and Ukraine. It is our view that the legal environment in these countries intends to prohibit adult video chat. Given this landscape, we do not actively operate in either of these countries.
Pornography of any kind is broadly illegal across African countries. In some countries these laws are based on cultural views. In others, they are related to the fact that age and identity verification systems are not robust or common. Given this landscape, we do not actively operate in Africa.
The Middle East
A complicated landscape. Pornography laws are not well documented. But sometimes you can learn a lot about things by studying the broader legal culture. In many Middle Eastern countries, it would be so obvious that pornography is not allowed that no one would even think to make a law about it. In general, if a woman is not allowed to show her face in public without being arrested and the government executes people for being gay, we consider ourselves to be de facto outlawed, even if it isn't explicitly stated in the law.
Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have clear laws prohibiting all forms of pornography. We do not operate in any of these countries and would strongly advise models not to broadcast while traveling in these locations.
Turkey and Israel have legalized pornography and we've seen no prohibitive activity against adult video chat there.
Other Middle Eastern countries: it is unclear. But we tend to lean towards it being prohibited.
South And Central Asia
The environment in South and Central Asia largely follows pace with the Middle East. But there are fewer clear-cut laws.
Almost certainly illegal in: Turkmenistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
Probably legal in: Azerbaijan.
We'll take this on a case by case basis.
China: Probably illegal.
Hong Kong & Macau: It appears to be carte blanche legal in both of these Special Administrative Regions. Most of the pornographic material available within China is produced in HK/Macau.
Japan: Legal. Japan has a gigantic adult video chat industry.
India: Legal. Not much of an industry that we've been able to discover.
South Korea: Illegal. Very clear.
North Korea: Come on.
As Russia spans multiple continents, we decided to handle it directly. Adult video chat is a big industry in Russia. Russian law is confusing about pornography (and most other things). We'd be hesitant to take a firm stance on this one. We do not operate in Russia. Plenty of other companies do and there are tons of active adult video chat models in Russia and a vibrant porn industry. We don't know how any of it works. We've met some of the people that run it, but they haven't really clarified it.
Southeast Asia has a lot of diversity both in culture and the role of government. So here it's necessary to take it on a case by case basis.
In Southeast Asia we are referring to: Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, and Vietnam.
Both Laos and Vietnam have a plethora of laws regulating online activity and some that explicitly ban all forms of pornography. We think adult video chat is most likely intended to be outlawed. We do not actively operate in these countries.
While many ASEAN nations have laws prohibiting the production and distribution of "sex movies," in many cases we don't see any laws that would expressly prohibit a 1-on-1 adult video chat session.
In one case, the Philippines, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was intended to prohibit, among other things, webcam sex sites. This law has faced stiff opposition from the general public and several Supreme Court challenges have overruled portions of the law and amended other parts. Does it still intend to prohibit adult video chat? We're not sure.
No other ASEAN nations have passed similar laws, despite the increasing popularity of adult video chat in those countries.
Myanmar, Indonesia, and Malaysia have the strictest anti-pornography laws and appear to intend to prohibit all forms of pornography. We would not want to try and explain the nuances of adult video chat to a judge in these countries. So we do not actively operate in any of them.
This leaves Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, and Brunei.
Overall, the legal waters are muddied in Southeast Asia, as is the enforcement. We have not been able to find any cases of solo performers being prosecuted. There have been several cases involving "webcam sex sites" that gained a lot of negative coverage. But in close reading of each case and juxtaposing it versus our reading of the local culture, we regularly think, "Yeah, but that's not what WE do."
Generally, every case has involved the live broadcasting of more than one person having sex with each other on cam, which we think is clearly prohibited. Other cases have involved underage performers and trafficking prosecutions. Which is illegal everywhere.
So, is it OK for a solo performer to engage in 1-on-1 paid private video chat shows? We can't say with certainty, and nor can any of the countries in question. Some people say that it's for sure legal. Others say it's for sure illegal. The truth is, the laws in these countries don't clearly spell it out, and no one really knows.
We advise caution and discretion to any of our performers traveling in Southeast Asia when it comes to working. Use of a VPN and not telling people what you do is a good practice.
Notice To Foreign Governments & Law Enforcement
It is never the intent of Pandora Modeling to be in violation of the laws of any nation. We work hard and and play by the rules. But as a company that exists in a free state (the United States) our corporate policy is to strictly adhere to our own country's laws, respect any international trade/treaty conventions abroad, and do our best to encourage performers to abide by any local laws where they live and while traveling.
The reality is that we do not have any control over the specific acts any of our performers engage in during their private performances. We do not monitor the shows. Performers are working independently from their own locations, on their own schedules, and the choice as to what they do or do not to is theirs.
The total economic impact of our company in foreign countries is positive cash flow. When we visit places, we spend money and tip well as tourists. If models join our company from another country, they make significant income having 1-on-1 private video chats with a largely American audience. We bring money everywhere we go and we leave a lot of it behind.
So please don't arrest us because we may or may not sometimes get undressed in a private video chat.
There are all sorts of legal considerations beyond the fact that pornography is criminal in some parts of the world. For instance, it's almost certainly the case that an American model logging on to broadcast while on vacation in Spain, is in violation of an immigration statute (as they don't have a proper work visa). Would Spanish authorities prefer our models not check-in on Instagram while in Ibiza, just in case the bikini photo provokes a tip? Or, would they prefer us to take our vacation somewhere else?
In these cases we try to adhere to common sense and hope everyone else will too. Independent models are not in any common-sense understanding of the law conducting business locally while traveling. They aren't opening bank accounts or conducting financial transactions commercially. They are not becoming an employee of a local business. We are not involved in any of the marketplaces that visa/immigration laws intend to regulate.
What we do is mostly invisible, even if very public. Models can block the country they reside in from being able to see their profile. Any experiences can be 1-on-1 in a private chat with a customer. And models perform using a stage name.
So while it might be OK to do everywhere on earth without even considering "legality," we don't like the potential legal exposure it might create for our company to recommend it.