SINGAPORE: Content creator Titus Low Kaide was on Wednesday (Oct 12) fined S$3,000 for uploading obscene photos and videos to online platform OnlyFans. He was also sentenced to three weeks' jail for accessing the website although he was ordered not to do so.
Low, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of failing to comply with a police order by accessing his OnlyFans account when he was under investigation and prohibited from doing so.
He admitted to a second charge of transmitting obscene photos and videos to his OnlyFans account.
Another three charges were considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Low started an OnlyFans account in April last year.
Between then and October 2021, he earned more than US$240,000 (S$345,500) from the platform, after deducting taxes.
He had more than 1,900 active subscribers as of October 2021, and more than 4,000 expired subscribers.
Investigations against him began when a person filed a police report in September 2021, after finding an obscene video of Low in their 12-year-old niece's mobile phone.
The police took a statement from Low and told him he was not to access his OnlyFans account and the email account linked to it.
Low surrendered his passwords but failed to tell the police that he had a secondary email account linked to the OnlyFans account.
After the police changed his passwords, Low contacted the OnlyFans helpdesk and managed to get access to the account again, by claiming he had been hacked.
He then posted more obscene photos and videos for his paid subscribers.
The breach was discovered when the investigating officer tried to access his OnlyFans account for investigations.
The passwords were changed again, but Low reached out to OnlyFans to get access to his account yet again.
He succeeded and again posted more obscene footage.
KEY ISSUE IS ABOUT LOW WILFULLY DISOBEYING POLICE ORDER: PROSECUTOR
Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran asked for a fine of S$3,000 for the obscene material charge and a jail term of four weeks for defying a police order.
He stressed that the key issue in this case was about Low wilfully disobeying an order by the police not to access his OnlyFans account. After lying to the helpdesk that he had been hacked, he breached the order and profited from it by uploading further obscene material, said Mr Sukumaran.
"This case your honour, is not about the unenforceability of certain provisions, not about the legality of a certain Internet platform. It is not about him being singled out for anything, it's because he wilfully disobeyed a police order," said the prosecutor.
LAWYER TRIES TO ASK FOR PROBATION, SAYS LOW IS FIRST ONE PROSECUTED OVER ONLYFANS
Lawyer Kirpal Singh asked for a probation suitability report, or a fine in the alternative. He said Low is a young man currently serving his national service, who had a troubled childhood and did not come from a stable family.
"He had to fend for himself early on, in work, in school, and he was trying to stand on his own two feet quite early on in life," said Mr Singh.
He said Low was suffering from an adjustment disorder as diagnosed by the Institute of Mental Health. The lawyer said this is the first case involving an OnlyFans account, and described how the platform is designed only for adults to enter.
He said there was a mechanism for face recognition to prevent minors from accessing it and that the platform is not an open one.
"So it's very secure in that sense and it's almost between two consenting adults," said Mr Singh.
He said there was a broader issue here as consenting adults will time and again transmit potentially pornographic obscene materials to each other.
He gave an example of a boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and wife sharing intimate photos with each other.
"That in itself is technically an offence, but no action is taken," said Mr Singh. "For example, we have a disgruntled, aggrieved boyfriend who then threatens the girlfriend that he will upload the material, then he is charged, but the girlfriend who first transmitted the obscene material herself is not charged."
He said there was a "certain anomaly as to why Titus is being selected or picked on" but said he would not expound on that as it was entirely up to prosecutorial discretion.
As for the police report that prompted investigations, Mr Singh said it is "the nature of the business" and that they "cannot control what happens" if adult content gets distributed to social media platforms and eventually ends up in a child's phone.
"We accept that's the nature of the business and Internet, but Titus himself was not the one who posted it. I believe at some point he made a police report about it, the fact that his materials were being captured and shared," said Mr Singh.
He said it could be disseminated when a paying subscriber takes a video of Low's video on the OnlyFans platform.
He said he asked Low point blank why he defied the police order, and Low told him that he already had prepaid subscribers at that point and felt "an obligation to continue to supply them content".
He said he did not think jail was appropriate in this case, saying Low was the first one from OnlyFans to be prosecuted and that there is no yardstick with which he could gauge his actions.
However, he said Low accepted it was a "stupid thing to do" and he regrets it.
LOW NOT SHUNNED BY PUBLIC EYE AS DEFENCE CLAIMS, SAYS PROSECUTOR
In response, the prosecutor Mr Sukumaran reiterated his point that Low was in court because he wilfully disobeyed a police order.
"My learned friend seems to suggest he was picked on in some way. The crux of the offending is he disregarded the law and therefore he is before you," he said to the judge.
He added that there are actually no safeguards in terms of the transmission of obscene material from OnlyFans.
"As the police report showed - a video was found in a 12-year-old's phone. There is always this risk of dissemination, even if it's only open to adults, even if there's verification by age or photo, there's always a risk of dissemination," said Mr Sukumaran.
He stressed that probation was for offenders below the age of 21 unless there was a strong propensity for reform, but there was no such evidence of that in this case. As for Low's adjustment disorder, the prosecutor said there is no evidence that it led to his offending.
The defence lawyer had argued that since his charging, Low has become "reclusive" and shunned by the public eye, but the prosecutor uploaded two articles showing Low's opening of an ice cream parlour and about a domestic issue.
Low recently married Malaysian influencer Cheryl Chin and announced months later that they were having a baby.
"Those articles show that he is revelling in the public eye, contrary to what he is saying," said Mr Sukumaran.
District Judge Brenda Chua noted that Low had planned and taken active steps quickly to regain access to his OnlyFans account, approaching the helpdesk more than once as he was "determined" to regain access.
He had access to his account for two weeks until the police discovered it, and his action "demonstrates a disrespect for police orders and authority".
She said his repeated behaviour shows a blatant disregard for the law. For the obscene material charge, she noted the number of obscene content involved and similar charges taken into consideration.
The offence of transmitting obscene material electronically carries a jail term of up to three months, a fine or both.
For failing to comply with the order not to access his OnlyFans account, he could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$5,000 or both.