They have also become a source of security and privacy issues, as some built-in webcams can be remotely activated by spyware.
The most popular use of webcams is the establishment of video links, permitting computers to act as videophones or videoconference stations.
Webcam porn is originally created live and for an audience and provides a unique sexual experience to those involved.
Scenes are recorded and uploaded to be enjoyed after the show has ended so non-subscribers can watch.
Unauthorized access of webcams can present significant privacy issues (see "Privacy" section below).
In December 2011, Russia announced that 290,000 Webcams would be installed in 90,000 polling stations to monitor the Russian presidential election, 2012.
Improved video quality has helped webcams encroach on traditional video conferencing systems.
Video calling support has also been added to several popular instant messaging programs. Software is available to allow PC-connected cameras to watch for movement and sound, a computer e-mailed images of the burglar during the theft of the computer, enabling the owner to give police a clear picture of the burglar's face even after the computer had been stolen.
For a more complete list see Comparison of webcam software.