Distribution

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
8

Communicating by personal computer requires standard computer equipment. Computer communications require a personal computer (PC), a modem[2023] and access to a standard telephone line.[2024] The computer operator needs only a rudimentary knowledge of the equipment for effective communication.[2025]

The computer operator may subscribe to the services of one of many computer information firms. These firms provide access to their computer system for a fee.[2026] Once a computer firm is selected, the operator must acquire a working knowledge of the systems commands to operate the computer effectively. These firms provide a manual which explains the system's commands to the operator following his or her subscription to their service.[2027]

The computer firms offer a wide variety of communication services and provide varying degrees of privacy and security.[2028]

The firms may offer subscribers access to electronic "bulletin boards" where individuals have the opportunity to publicly place and read messages.[2029] These messages are accessible to all subscribers.

Firms may also offer a feature which permits one subscriber to send a confidential message to another subscribers.[2030] This service is similar to mailing a letter directly to another person. The message is sent by computer and received only by the person for whom the message is intended. The sender directs the messages to the recipient by routing them to the recipient's assigned identification number.[2031]

Many computer companies offer a "conference" feature which enables three or more subscribers to engage in a conversation.[2032] Conferences can be monitored by any subscriber to the service and afford no measure of privacy to participants in the dialogue.[2033] This is analogous to the Citizens Band radio network that can be monitored by anyone with a CB radio.

Computer services generally charge an initial subscription fee and a users' fee based upon the time of day and amount of computer time the subscriber uses.[2034] The initial fee is usually between thirty-five and one hundred dollars and user fees range from fifteen to twenty-five dollars per hour.[2035]

Sexually explicit computer subscription services are now available. One sexually explicit magazine, in January of 1985, began what they advertise as an "uncensored erotic" service called SEXTEX.[2036] This service offers an array of features including: (1) conference calls with unlimited parties; (2) a "sex shop" that allows the operator to purchase sexual devices, sexually explicit magazines and video tapes by computer; (3) bulletin boards where the operator can post related messages for other subscribers to read and/or respond to; (4) an electronic mail service which allows one subscriber to send personal notes to other SEXTEX users and to other computer information services; (5) A "Guide" which features articles on sex and travel; (6) the opportunity to place or answer a personal ad or seek some sexual advice.[2037]

The privacy of all communications is stressed by SEXTEX in their advertisements:

Your privacy is of paramount importance to us. SEXTEX has a password system that prevents unauthorized access, and you can change your password anytime you want. Your real identity need never be revealed; you will be known only by a user-name you select. Each SEXTEX transaction is strictly confidential. Information is used only to process the transaction and cannot be monitored even by us. The name SEXTEX will never appear on any bill. Your credit card statement will simply read "Video-tex Services."[2038]

SEXTEX subscribers are asked to sign a written contract when they apply for the service. This contract states that the applicant is eighteen years of age or older and that he will not let anyone under eighteen use the service.[2039] However, there is no indication that the computer services engage in any independent age verification for users and subscribers.[2040] The lack of verification permits young computer users and computer hackers easy access to the system.

Billing for SEXTEX services is currently done on the subscriber's credit card account.[2041] Alternate forms of payment (i.e. cash and checks) may be accepted in the future.[2042]

There are also a number of sexually oriented national and local bulletin boards systems.[2043] GENDERNET describes itself as an "information source for the transvestite and transsexual"[2044] ODYSSEY II is designed for nudists and swingers.[2045] SYSLAVE is known as "the kinkiest in L.A."[2046]

Sexually explicit computer subscription services and bulletin boards are often advertised in sexually explicit tabloids and magazines. Some are advertised through newsletters or direct mail.

Sexually oriented computer communications are not limited to subscription services offered by pornographers. Any two computer operators with compatible systems can carry on a sexually oriented conversation. Moreover, one of the largest personal home computer information networks with over 250,000 subscribers, offers its own "Adult Channel"[2047] This designated channel is one of several conference channels offered by the computer network.[2048] Subscribers may use the "Adult Channel" as an introduction and then continue private conversations elsewhere in the network by a simple system command.[2049]

Computers have also emerged as a method of communication between pedophiles about child victims.[2050]

Notes

In the July 1985 issue of High Society an article discussing SEXTEX described the following as examples of SEXTEX communications.

"Here's just a taste of the kinds of carnal conversations that go on every night with SEXTEX":

Phone:      How about sitting on my face?

Ultimo:     First tell me how really great you are at eating pussy.

Phone:      I like to take things slow, I start by rimming around your pussy with long strokes.

'Ultima:    That sounds great, I'm already getting wet.

Phone:      I like to tease until I see the sweet juice start to run out of your pussy.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------- Slick:   You said a mouthful? While you've got your big shaft between my beautiful knockers you can stick the head of it in my mouth. Will you let me suck it and swallow the cream?

Lust:             I sure will! I'm going to blow a load any minute. How's your pussy? I'll hold off for you.

Slick:      I've got my fingers working on it frantically, but I wanna hold out a little longer.

Lust:             Do you wanna come in my mouth?

Slick:      Do you wanna come all over my titties and pretty face? Maybe I should get out my instant camera so I can take a picture of your cum shooting out.

Lust:             Do you really have a camera? I think the keyboard would look great covered with your cum.

Getting User Friendly with Computer Sex, High Society (July 1985), p. 7.

  1. A modem is an inexpensive device which connects the computer to the telephone system and allows the personal computer access to computer information systems. A modem can be a separate device that sits alongside your computer, or it can be an electronic board built inside the machine.
  2. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Paul Hartman, p. 117A4.
  3. Id.; the owner's manual is supplied by the computer company and explains the mechanics of operations in detail. Id.
  4. Id.
  5. Id.
  6. Id., pp. 117A4-A5.
  7. Id., p. 117A4.
  8. Id., p. 117A5.
  9. Id.
  10. Id., p. 117A6.
  11. Id.
  12. The two largest home computer information services, CompuServe and The Source, operate in this manner. Telephone interview with CompuServe and The Source sales representatives. (March 6, 1986).
  13. Bane, X-Rated Computers, Genesis (Jan. 1984), pp. 76, 80.
  14. SEXTEX is the only service offered by CVC Online in New York. SEXTEX is synonymous with "COMPUSEX:" Interview with Chris Rogers, sales representative, CVC Online (Mar. 6, 1986).
  15. Id., pp. 6-7.
  16. SEXTEX Brochure received by Commission February 12, 1986 (July 1985), p. 7.
  17. Id.
  18. CVC Online representative Chris Rogers stated that the application asks for the date of birth but no independent verification is sought. They rely on the fact that credit cards are needed for billing as a deterrent to under age subscribers. Interview with Chris Rogers, sales representative, CVC Online (Mar. 6, 1986).
  19. SEXTEX Brochure received by Commission February 12, 1986 by CVC Online, Inc.
  20. CVC Online Representative Chris Rogers stated that some time in the future alternative methods of payments may be available. Interview with Chris Rogers, CVC Online sales representative (Mar. 6, 1986).
  21. Carr, Type Dirty to Me, Playboy (Mar. 1985) p. 174.
  22. Id.
  23. Id., p. 175.
  24. Id., p. 176.
  25. "X"-Rated: The Joys of CompuSex, Time (May 14, 1984).
  26. Id.
  27. Id.
  28. This issue is specifically addressed in Chapter 11, discussing child pornography.