Titus Low, OnlyFans, and the Grey Areas of the Law | campus.sg

Titus Low OnlyFans

The soft-spoken 22-year-old Titus Low transformed into Singapore’s most recognisable adult content creator on OnlyFans in just six months. But it wasn’t his racy content that shot him into infamy – he went viral because he’s believed to be the platform’s first content creator in Singapore to be charged with transmitting obscene materials on the site.

On December last year, the tattoo-adorned Titus was accused of uploading 32 explicit photographs and 29 videos to OnlyFans, and of failing to comply with an order that prohibited him from accessing his account. If found guilty of transmitting obscene material, he faces a jail term of up to three months and a fine, plus another six months’ jail if convicted of failing to comply with the order.

After his case blew up, some asked – is it illegal to upload adult content on OnlyFans, which is a subscriber-based service?

What the law says

According to the law, subscribing to creators and consuming obscene content on OnlyFans is not an offence.

Under Singapore law, “obscene” stuff is anything that “has the tendency to deprave and corrupt the minds” of people who have access to them. In Singapore, pornography is considered an aggravated form of obscenity… but the focus is actually on “who” has the access. OnlyFans requires users to be at least 18 years old, and isn’t banned in Singapore.

Remember that Singapore used to screen softcore porn at a cinema at Yangtze Cinema in Chinatown, and occasionally there’d be softcore stuff in mainstream cinemas in the past.

via Remember Singapore

While watching obscene stuff online isn’t breaking the law, uploading obscene content digitally is. Under Section 292 of the Penal Code, it’s a punishment of up to 3 months’ jail and/or fine. As a double whammy for Titus, he’s also committed an offence of profiting off the sale of obscene material, because viewers are paying to consume his stuff. Technically, even if obscene material is transmitted to a closed group of like-minded individuals (ie. “SG Nasi Lemak” Telegram chat group), between friends, or even among married couples, it’s breaking the law.

The law may be clear about these issues involving Titus’ case, but it’s tricky to enforce the law because it’s subscription based and therefore not available to the public. Obviously, a subscriber blew the whistle on Titus.

The irony is that while streaming obscene content is legal, downloading and distributing it is illegal. Titus’ OnlyFans content had been spreading on mainstream social media, which means that his subscribers – and his whistleblower – have broken the law. Section 30 of the Films Act applies to those who download and/or keep digital obscene materials.

Who exposed him?

After all this, Titus’ addressed his haters in a 9-minute video, saying it shouldn’t be their concern as the racy photos were only available to those interested enough to pay for them (currently, the law says consent is not considered a defence). He also said that after his initial arrest, five police officers turned up at his house to confiscate his phone and all his online stuff.

Titus speculated that he was ratted out by other OnlyFans creators who were jealous of his success. According to Vice, the average creator typically has about 10-50 subscribers, while Titus has at least 3,000 (mostly men). OnlyFans was also his only source of income, and it’s known that some creators on the platform can rake in over US$100,000 a month.

What’s in store for creators

Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo acknowledged that it’s not realistically possible to block OnlyFans or any obscene content on the Internet, citing collective efforts by various Singapore organisations to help build a “well-informed and discerning citizenry that can guard against online harms”.

Singapore Internet Watch has some unanswered questions, namely, to what extent will the authorities actively pursue the consensual sharing of explicit imagery, and if sexual orientation plays a role in the decision-making.

Titus is far from being the only content creator in Singapore posting racy content. Other OnlyFans creators are no doubt fearing repercussions following Titus’ brush with the law. In many cases, creators fear that their own subscribers could turn on them (as they probably did with Titus). Creators can also be blackmailed or harassed by subscribers who threaten to expose them.

While the Penal Code generally doesn’t have extra-territorial jurisdiction, a Singaporean or a foreigner who uploaded the material overseas and subsequently enters Singapore could potentially be dealt with by the law. It’s definitely a huge grey area for enforcement, because the realm of digital policing – especially in the areas of consent – is still relatively new.

Shailey Hingorani, head of research and advocacy at Aware, suggests that “laws pertaining to sexual activity of any nature should be relooked at to keep up with society and technology, with the principle of consent as a basis to determine legality.”

Titus is at the forefront of a landmark case that will set a precedent for the OnlyFans scene in Singapore. It’s make or break. Until then, Titus will be laying low.