MANILA, August 9, 2005
 (STAR) By Evelyn Macairan - If there is no law against it, how can cybersex be illegal?

While an official of the National Bureau of Investigation yesterday affirmed news reports that poverty has forced more Filipinos to venture into cybersex and real-time pornography conducted online, the NBI also said there is currently no law against cybersex.

Assistant NBI Regional Director Elfren Meneses Jr. of the Bureau’s Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes Division (AFCCD) admitted it is possible that poverty is the main reason why over 200,000 Filipino women, men and possibly children have fallen victim to ploys by syndicates peddling cybersex on the Internet.

The worms baited on the cybersex hook are, as always, convenience and profit.

Compared with working for a nightclub, working for a cybersex operation might actually be a better option for sex workers, Meneses said.

"In the nightclub, they would have to deal with men fondling them, but if they only offer virtual sexual services it would not require any physical contact," he noted. Conventional "working girls" also face the risk of being beaten up by their customers and face elevated risks of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. These risks are practically non-existent online, where no physical contact is necessary for cybersex to be consummated.

The ease with which cybersex can be found and initiated and the relative anonymity and safety of online sexual exchanges have brought prostitution into the Internet age.

Webcam video-streaming and audio-streaming also open possibilities for entrepreneurs who want to make money as "cyber-pimps" because the main catch of "virtual sex" online is to provide practically a full-body sexual experience minus the risks posed by STDs because there is no actual physical contact.

In many cases, those who engage in cybersex need not reveal their true names, ages or locations — thus making it easier to sell the services of minors online.

The income is also more rewarding for cybersex workers. The biggest tip that a nightclub worker may get for a day’s "work" is P500.

People offering carnal pleasures over the Internet earn at least $3 or (about P165) for each minute they are online, Meneses said: "They could even earn P40,000 per session. Before a client can access the website, they would have to enter the PIN number (security code) of his credit card."

Online payment facilities and Internet-facilitated money transfers also make transactions for cybersex easier to conduct.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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