WASHINGTON - Federal Bureau of Investigation agents met with representatives of the adult entertainment industry today at FBI headquarters to address issues related to the federal 2257 record-keeping law.
The purpose of the hour-long meeting was to update the adult industry on the inspections conducted thus far, to listen to any adult industry concerns regarding the inspections, and to solicit recommendations from the industry on how to improve the 2257 inspection process.
The meeting was chaired by Kenneth W. Kaiser, assistant director of the Bureau's inspection division, and included supervisory special agents Chuck Joyner and Stephen G. Lawrence, section chief John Z. Gillies, and Richard McNally, assistant general counsel for the FBI.
Adult industry attendees included attorneys Paul Cambria (representing LFP), Jeffrey Douglas (representing Red Light District and Smash Pictures) and Greg Piccionelli (representing Digital Playground), Red Light's Larry Schwarz, LFP's Sean Berrios, Julie Russell of Wicked Pictures, Gayle Ertz from Vivid Entertainment Group, Chris Haberski from KeepSafe, AVN's Mark Kernes, Tom Hymes of XBiz, and Lawrence Iyoho, Jr. of The Score Group.
24 Adult Video Companies Inspected; Three More Due Next Week
Agent Joyner announced that 24 inspections of adult companies had been held to date. Four of these companies were found to be in complete compliance, while 15 others had what Joyner described as “unintentional violations,” mostly due to illegible identification documents.
In response to a question from Jeffrey Douglas, officials confirmed that "improper cross-referencing" was the cause of many violations found to date.
However, Joyner said, five companies had engaged in “willful violations” of the law. According to Joyner, those companies have been subjected to re-inspection and remain in violation. Joyner confirmed that the inspection records in these cases had been forwarded to the Justice Department - however, he did not specify the exact nature of the violations.
Joyner also said that three companies are scheduled for 2257 inspections next week - and that he understood that one or more of them was known to have some violations.
Cambria asked if the companies who had twice failed their inspections have had their records of those inspections sent to the Justice Department. Agent Joyner confirmed that the records had in fact been sent to the DOJ.
Agent Joyner assured the group that every company inspected so far is a primary producer, and that the the FBI determines that status according to the name listed on the 2257 compliance statement.
Asked whether the DOJ had informed the FBI whether charges had been brought against any of the companies found in violation, Gillies said: "They have not made any decisions on charges yet."
Websites Are 'The Next Wave' of 2257 Inspections
Cambria asked the FBI personnel when the Bureau expected to begin conducting inspections of webmasters. Agent Joyner replied that websites would be “the next wave” of adult companies to be inspected.
Cambria then brought up the point that the definition of a web page remains unclear. He inquired what operating definition the FBI expected to use, saying: “You have to employ a definition when you’re in the field.”
To this and many other questions from the industry, director Kaiser replied that he would try to get the Justice Dept. to “tighten that up.”
Piccionelli noted one of the problems with the 2257 compliance notice regarding websites: a web page might have 10 box covers, all shot on different dates, each containing multiple photos, each of which may have been shot on different dates. Current regulations would require a web page to provide a compliance notice containing hundreds of production dates, which Piccionelli felt would be unwieldy, if not impossible to comply with.
ID requirements for live web performers was another topic of discussion, as some websites aggregate video feeds from multiple sources. Douglas asked how the packagers can be responsible for the live performers' identification documents when such performers could be as far away as the Philippines. Kaiser replied, "You bring up a good point,” and said that he would speak to the DOJ about the issue.
Cambria asked whether the FBI had found hyperlinks effective in accessing 2257 compliance statements, and Joyner acknowledged that he did. In response, Cambria requested that the Bureau talk to the DOJ about the new proposed regs requiring compliance statements to appear on each page of a website.
Joyner had previously noted 1,200 companies in the FBI database of companies. With the addition of web-based producers, he did not have a count of how many companies the database now contains.
Another area of inquiry dealt with identity theft by “secondary producers." Douglas noted that at least one case of identity theft has already occurred in which one individual announced on the Internet that he had stolen all of the 2257 records from one company and was offering them for sale, even going so far as to post the picture ID of one performer online as evidence that he had such information.
The consensus of the industry attendees was that the new proposed regulations were good insofar as they allowed producers to redact the addresses and phone numbers on picture IDs – but that as long as driver’s license numbers and Social Security numbers were still visible, identity theft was still highly possible.
Proposed 2257 Changes
Today's meeting did not include discussion of proposed changes to the 2257 law currently under review by the Department of Justice. FBI officials emphasized that the Bureau only enforces the law – it has nothing to do with the legislative process or the approval of changes to the law.
FBI officials noted that the inspections which will occur next week and for the foreseeable future will be done under existing regulations, since the Bureau does not recognize updated regulations until they have been finally approved.
Addressing a question on secondary producer status relating to the proposed changes, Kaiser said that until such time as the new regs pass, "they don't exist for us."
Adult Industry Reps Suggest Standardized Forms, Third-Party Record Keeping
Jeffrey Douglas suggested that it would be helpful if the FBI could come up with “one standard form” for 2257 compliance.
Douglas noted that many government agencies have standard forms that they require the industries being regulated to use, but that such a form was lacking for the adult industry. “Standardization will make your job easier,” Douglas said.
"The best suggestion we have made…is the notion of third-party record keeping," Douglas continued, submitting the idea of a “central repository” where primary producers could provide documents for secondary producers to access if needed.
Douglas said that such a repository would make cross-referencing records much easier, noting that one distribution company had needed to cross-reference and index over six million documents. While Douglas did not name the company, it was clear he was referring to New Beginnings.
Douglas called the current cross-referencing scheme “enormously burdensome” and unnecessary for the identification of performers who might be minors.
Chris Haberski of KeepSafe noted that in the eight years that he has been indexing identification documents for companies that he has never had a security breach or an identity theft. He added that a central repository system would allow secondary producers temporary access to documents without actually having the paperwork in their possession.
Kaiser assured attendees that the FBI will keep the adult industry informed of any changes in the 2257 inspection process. He said that the FBI expects to have another, similar meeting with the industry in “a couple of months."
AVN Senior Editor Mark Kernes contributed to this report from Washington.