I’ve talked about Omegle a lot in the past. For those of you who may not know it is a website that allows anyone with a webcam or smart phone camera to chat with random strangers. Omegle’s terms of service state that you have to be 13 to use the site but there is no real way to keep out anyone who may be younger. Also as I’ve mentioned before Omegle is one of the most popular subjects on this site since so many people are Googling the phrase “Will I be arrested from Omegle?” in order to reach the site. That leads me to believe that there’s not enough investigations being done by law enforcement agencies into Omegle predators. Not a day goes by where Omegle isn’t one of the top search terms for this site. However that doesn’t mean that people on Omegle aren’t being arrested for illicit behavior.
Police in Salem, New Hampshire recently arrested 33-year-old Brian Powell for allegedly using Omegle to produce child porn. Police say that while living in his mother’s basement Powell would get on Omegle and get underage girls to take their clothes off. Underage is an understatement as some of his victims are believed to be as young as 8 and 9-years-old. No 8 or 9-year-old child needs to be on Omegle as even their slogan of “talk to strangers” should indicate it’s not really a place for children.
Again as is the case with a lot of these apps or websites all you need us a device and a wifi connection to get on. There is no official app for Omegle but it does have a very responsive mobile version of its site that will allow you to use your smart phone camera on it through the web browser. Here is a great article on how to block certain sites on most devices.
As with any app or website they’re not going to take any measures to effectively protect your kids. As a parent you are the only real line of defense between online predators and your kids. Allowing them to have unfettered access to internet enabled cameras is akin to leaving their bedroom windows open for predators.
UPDATE 9/6/2016: Powell pleaded guilty to child porn charges back in May, and prosecutors are looking for a 25 year sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for 9/16.
UPDATE 11/1/2016: Powell is looking to withdraw his guilty plea, hire a new attorney and go to trial.
UPDATE 6/30/2017: Powell was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.