The Real Peril Of Being In Porn

Heather Smith, who did clerical work in the adult-film industry, quickly realized that performers are under high risk of identity theft:

The Adam Walsh Child Protection Act reporting requirements seem to have done a good job of keeping people under 18 out of the porn industry, but they have done so by compromising the personal information of every person over the age of 18 who has ever worked in porn, or erotic modeling, no matter how briefly. Even as a disaffected contract worker with no background check, I had access to the addresses, Social Security numbers, real names, and unflattering ID photos of every porn actor or actress that I identified. I had this information because the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act demanded that anyone who sold, or resold, pornography, have this information in their records.

As I linked performers to the database, I noticed that a few of them lived not far away from the dot-com office. I could have stopped and knocked on their doors on my way home from work. At the very least, I could have used their information to commit credit card fraud. Very little, [porn actress] Stoya told me, scares her more about her job than these databases: “People ask me if I’m worried about being recognized on the street and attacked by someone in a dark alley. No, I worry about people who are good with computers.”