Omegle, an American video chat site that allows strangers around the world to chat anonymously, is in the sights of the government. The Secretary of State for Children will report to the courts facts of exposure of minors to pornography and pedocrime on the chat platform. According to a Kool Mag survey, the site connects “perverts and minors”and it is not uncommon to come across adults showing off naked in front of their webcam.
→ ANALYSIS. Children and screens: the effectiveness of default parental control questions
However, its access is only limited by a checkbox, where the user must confirm that he is over 13 years old. For Thomas Rohmer, president of the Open association, dedicated to digital education, it is imperative to impose stricter regulation on this type of platform.
The cross : How to explain the success of this site among children and adolescents?
Thomas Rohmer: This is a site that has been around for a very long time. What is really worrying is that there is an incentive to visit this site from influencers who do not really have a way of knowing the precise age of the people who follow them. So by pushing them to go to this site, they are sending them to a space that is not suitable for them.
For the teenagers who go there, often in groups, it is sometimes a way of testing their limits because they know what they are going to find there. Young girls go there to make fun of old perverts, for example. It’s a bit of a joke for these young people. On the other hand, for the youngest, nine or ten years old, there is a feeling of naivety. They think they can meet their favorite youtubeur there, whereas statistically, it is almost impossible.
Can the law aimed at strengthening parental control limit children’s access to this site?
TR: Only on condition that this site is recognized as being potentially dangerous for children. The parental control system relies on keywords, so they still need to be integrated. Although very useful for the little ones, this system has its limits when the children grow up. The challenge is also to better regulate the platforms.
→ DEBATE. Do you need a smartphone from primary school?
It is a societal debate that must be addressed. Many people say that the Internet is a space of freedom, and that it is up to parents to supervise their children. Agree, but not only: it is also the role of a company to define what is authorized and what is not.
How, concretely, can we regulate access to this type of platform?
TR: I am not for a total ban, it is necessary to impose on all sites likely to welcome children to have an age verification system. We can absolutely find systems that can really control the age of users to block access to minors, you can’t make me believe that in 2022 it doesn’t exist. This is exactly what we want to impose on pornographic sites. By regulating more, we will inevitably encroach on certain freedoms, but the Internet cannot be a zone of lawlessness.