Omegle can be sued for matching child with sexual predator: US Court

Online chat service Omegle is now facing a lawsuit after its matching system paired an 11-year-old girl with a man who then sexually abused her.

A district judge in Portland, Oregon, said the company’s system was not protected by the legal shield that covers much user-generated content. The case is not concluded, but it opens the door to more prosecutions based on how a platform designs its services, reports The Verge.

The legal complaint, filed late last year, alleges that Omegle’s service was defective and falsely represented.

It is a common strategy that has often failed in court before, including with Grindr in a harassment case, typically due to the legal protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the report said.

This time, however, Judge Michael Mosman determined that the lawsuit targeted functions specifically designed by Omegle rather than a speech by other users on the platform, it added.

“Omegle could have satisfied its alleged obligation … by designing its product differently — for example, by designing a product so that it did not match minors and adults,” wrote Mosman.

“What matters for purposes of those claims is that the warnings or design of the product at issue led to the interaction between an 11-year-old girl and a sexual predator in his late thirties,” Mosman added.

That was independent of the actual content sent by either party, something that Omegle could more clearly argue it wasn’t responsible for.

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