Cross border rules are hard to police and enforce internationally. Previously we discussed translations across various languages. The reality is that some things just don’t translate well. In addition to language, the law also doesn’t translate well across state and country lines. The subject in question is 22 year old Titus Low who started on OnlyFans in April 2021 and within 3 months amassed a following of 2000 subscribers paying $15 per month for private photos of him. It was his lifestyle of someone making more than a quarter million dollars per year which tipped the authorities off.
In Singapore, where he is currently based, it is illegal to “transmit any obscene materials by electronic means, or to take part in or receive profits from any business where such materials are transmitted.” Low, for his part, is claiming that his business is a subscription based service, but legal experts are claiming that the law holds even if it is consensual on both sides.
Low was arrested in December 2021 and has pivoted his focus to NFTs and sex toys modeled after himself. Despite his desire to return to the work that made him known by planning a move to Los Angeles or London, he awaits his fate in Singapore.
There have been digital restrictions that have crossed boundaries internationally like privacy laws, GDPR in the EU, CCPA in California, and the FTC disclosure rules for US based campaigns. However, influencer content being regulated is much more rare.
Besides adult content, there are some countries or municipalities that have outlawed things like cryptocurrency or speaking ill of the country’s political figures. It’s always good to get a lay of the land in terms of the law when traveling abroad, especially when engaging in content that might be questionable. Something that might be perfectly legal in the United States, like adult content or questioning of politics, could be illegal internationally.
Internationally, Artist Ai Weiwei has been imprisoned in China for his criticism of the government as well as Russian band Pussy Riot whose members have been arrested and jailed for “hooliganism.” Other bloggers have been arrested or jailed for defaming Islam, religious protests, free speech, or being anti-government.
Reading some of these arrests from an American perspective makes you realize that if you are in the United States the things we do ‘normally’ are taken for granted. We mentioned some of these benefits about 9 months ago and reiterate some of the international rulings so that we can reflect on our own luck: WeChat is banning nose-picking and spanking, putting underwear on your head, showing tattoos, using bed sheets as props, women broadcasting in a bikini or underwear, talking about politics or gambling, broadcasting from venues like foot massage parlors or nightclubs.
We also mentioned Zuckerburg’s way of running his social media behemoth: ask for forgiveness rather than permission. In other words, before you ask the authorities if you are breaking the law, which will just bring scrutiny to what you are doing and will most likely lead to no, and have to review and get approvals and a long drawn out process, just do it and say sorry later. While this might work in the United States, clearly it does not work internationally. Thus if you have an OnlyFans and are transmitting content, it might be wise to avoid Singapore for the time being.
Are you working in a foreign country? Are you working in any of the edge case industries? Have the authorities been after you for a digital content activity? How will things be regulated when we are in the metaverse? Any other thoughts on international etiquette? Let us know your thoughts! Drop us an email so we can tell your story