Archive for: June, 2014

Attorney Carrie Goldberg weighs in on proposed anti-revenge porn law

With days left in the legislative session, the New York State Senate passed a bill on Wednesday night that would criminalize the sending of revenge porn pictures without consent of the person in the image.

Websites like or have been targeted by courts and lawmakers nationwide for posting not only posting private images without consent of the subject but also publishing sensitive information including name, location and social media links.

Brooklyn attorney Carrie A. Goldberg operates a private practice that has handled cases related to online-privacy-sex invasions and volunteers with revenge porn advocacy group End Revenge Porn. Goldberg said she was glad to see the state prioritizing recognizing revenge porn as a crime but does see more work to be done both online and off.

Why is this law necessary in New York State?
I think that New York is responding to the need that is rippling throughout the rest of the country. Distributing photos of people is really harmful to the victims and exposes them to irreparable humiliation. and until now, there’s nothing that deters that behavior.

What kind of humiliation do revenge porn victims typically experience?
They’re horrified and terrified. Most of the victims are in their early 20s; I’ve seen some as young as 13. Many are in the early stages of the their careers, and it’s foolish to think one can get a job without employers doing a Google search, and images from revenge porn sites are the first hits when victims’ names are typed into search engines.

They’re also really scared about the impact that the images might have on their family and other personal relationships. The victim-shaming is particularly extreme in religious communities — it has profound effects. And in all cases, victims express an urgency to get the images removed.

But does the proposed law help take down those images?
Federal copyright laws usually applies to take down images, but no this law doesn’t.

What are some of the other weaknesses that this law doesn’t necessarily address?
This law requires that the perpetrator have the intent to harass, annoy or alarm the victim, but we actually see some situations outside of that pattern where the perpetrator might not have a relationship with the victim. They either hack into computers or take the images off someone’s cellphone.

In hackings or when there’s a drive for financial gain, you don’t have that intent. That person might not be covered by the law, but the victim would be equally harmed.

There are actually other versions of revenge porn laws floating around in Albany that have exceptions where the law wouldn’t apply, like when distribution was for law enforcement and reporting crimes, or if nudity is voluntary in public or commercial settings or if disclosure serves a legitimate public purpose like in the Anthony Weiner case.

What does public purpose mean?
There are certain situations when the public has an interest in knowing if our potential elected officials are sending crotch shots to other people and publishing them online.

We don’t want Sydney Leathers to be prosecuted under this law because she was exposing something about an elected official that is of value.

Is there any advice you would offer to folks who might be victimized by revenge porn?
If this bill gets passed: report it to law enforcement and don’t leave the precinct until they take the report.

But my advice is more to the people who have naked photos of other people: don’t distribute them — get rid of them. It’s your obligation. There’s nothing wrong with people sending naked pictures to other people — the problem lies in what the recipients do with them.

Attorney weighs in on proposed anti-revenge porn law –… Read the rest

Hearing for San Diego man accused in revenge porn case

SAN DIEGO – A woman testified Tuesday that she was scared and afraid after sexual photos of her taken by her ex-boyfriend ended up on a website owned by a San Diego man.

The woman testified during a preliminary hearing for Kevin Bollaert, who’s accused of posting thousands of explicit photos of women on a so-called “revenge porn” website without their consent, then extorting money from some victims who wanted the images removed.

Jane Doe 5 testified that she began getting nasty and racial comments after sexual photos of her were posted on Bollaert’s website, “”

The woman said she had no idea that her ex-boyfriend had taken the photos when they went on a trip.

She said she e-mailed “” to take the photos down, but got no response. The pictures eventually were removed from the website a week later.

In addition to the photos, the woman’s name, location and phone number were posted on the website, prompting nasty calls and texts at all hours of the day, she said.

“It was just scary because all these people knew who I was,” the woman testified.

Bollaert, 27, was charged last year with 31 felony counts, including conspiracy, identity theft and extortion.

In December 2012, Bollaert created “,” which allows people to create anonymous, public posts of private explicit photographs without their subjects’ permission, according to court testimony.

Commonly known as revenge porn, such images, generally of nude young women, typically are obtained consensually by the poster during a prior relationship, or are stolen.

Unlike other such online sites, on which those depicted in the photos are anonymous, required that a poster include the subject’s full name, location, age and social-networking profile link, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Under California law, it is illegal to willfully obtain someone’s personal identifying information — including name, age and address — for any unlawful purpose, including with the intent to “annoy” or harass.

Between Dec. 2, 2012, and Sept. 17 of last year, Bollaert and unnamed co-conspirators posted 10,170 explicit photos without the subjects’ consent, according to prosecutors.

Bollaert also allegedly created a second online site, “,” which he used when people contacted to request that content be removed from the site.

Bollaert allegedly extorted victims by replying with a email address and offering to remove the content for a fee ranging from $300 to $350.

Following the preliminary hearing, which resumes Wednesday, Judge David Gill will decide whether enough evidence was presented for Bollaert to stand trial.

Hearing for San Diego man accused in revenge porn case resumes on Wednesday
revenge porn – Google News… Read the rest

Michigan Senate Passes Bill Targeting Revenge Porn

LANSING, MI — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved a bill targeting revenge porn that would make it a crime to post sexually explicit images of a person online without their consent.

Individuals who post images obtained without permission or refuse to take down images given to them for personal viewing could be charged with a misdemeanor resulting in up to 93 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $500.

A second or subsequent violation could result in up to one year behind bars and/or a $1,000 fine.

The bipartisan bills, sponsored by Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge and Democratic Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren, passed the upper chamber in unanimous votes and now head to the House for consideration.

“In a split second a sexually explicit photo can be uploaded to the Internet without the individual’s consent -– permanently ruining their reputation,” Bieda said in a statement. “The support Republicans and Democrats have shown for these bills is proof that cyber revenge will not be tolerated in the state of Michigan.”

The legislation would provide an affirmative defense in court if the accused took all reasonable steps to have the “photograph, drawing or other visual image” removed upon written request.

A handful of states are moving to criminalize “revenge porn,” according to USA Today. The newspaper last month reported the story of Holly Jacobs, who became the face of the movement after an ex-boyfriend posted sexually explicit photos of her online.

‘Revenge porn’ bill passed by Michigan Senate would criminalize unwanted … –
revenge porn – Google News… Read the rest

Colorado Revenge Porn Statute Is Good Law and Sound Policy

On Thursday, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law a statute criminalizing “revenge porn.” As professors with expertise in constitutional and criminal law, we commend the legislature and governor for their actions and hope other states will follow suit.

Revenge porn–more accurately known as “non-consensual pornography“–is the distribution of intimate pictures of another person without that person’s consent. One common scenario involves an angry former partner who wishes to humiliate. But roommates, landlords, voyeurs, and hackers have likewise obtained and distributed intimate pictures without permission.

Victims of non-consensual pornography suffer devastating harm. Unwanted publication of one’s intimate pictures can damage employment prospects, destroy relationships, and exact an immense psychological toll. Many victims experience intense harassment and threats to physical safety–both online and offline–as a direct result of the publication of the pictures. Several victims have committed suicide.

In recognition of these harms, twelve states, most recently including Colorado, have already criminalized non-consensual pornography. Legislation is pending in several others and at the federal level.

The new Colorado revenge porn law creates two misdemeanors. One applies when an individual posts intimate pictures to harass the victim by causing severe emotional distress; the other when the pictures are posted for monetary gain. Both offenses apply only to posting on social media either without consent or when the perpetrator should have known that the person depicted reasonably expected that the pictures would remain private. Neither applies to pictures related to a newsworthy event or to events related to public figures.

Some have questioned whether criminalizing non-consensual pornography infringes on protected expression. While this is an important concern, we believe that Colorado’s new law survives constitutional scrutiny. The First Amendment has never shielded all expression: the Supreme Court has held that the government can regulate certain unprotected categories of speech that, like non-consensual pornography, cause egregious harm and lack social value. Indeed, victims have already turned to civil remedies such as copyright law, which courts have repeatedly held constitutional. And the ACLU–typically critical of laws that infringe on expression–agrees that criminal laws can withstand constitutional scrutiny if they comply with requirements that the Colorado law meets.

It’s true that the Supreme Court has never explicitly addressed non-consensual pornography. But the Supreme Court had also never addressed obscenity until it addressed obscenity, nor had it addressed child pornography until it addressed child pornography. Technological developments enable both inspiring new forms of communication and awful new mechanisms of abuse. The First Amendment is subject to ongoing interpretation as the world it regulates continues to evolve. Non-consensual pornography closely resembles other forms of unprotected expression and should be categorized with them.

Others might object that non-consensual pornography–while repugnant–should not be criminalized because civil law provides adequate remedies. For example, copyright law allows some victims to sue for damages and have their pictures removed, and tort law permits suits for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and similar claims. Such lawsuits play an important role, but they provide an incomplete remedy. Civil litigation is expensive, and not everyone can afford a lawyer. Copyright law only provides a remedy when the victim owns the copyright to the picture, which is often not the case if someone else took the picture. Some perpetrators of non-consensual pornography are insolvent, so victims would recover little or nothing. Most importantly, even large civil damages awards won’t solve the real problem. Once published online, non-consensual pornography is often downloaded and reposted innumerable times. Preventing initial posting is critical, and criminalization supplies an important deterrent.

The new Colorado crimes will be Class 1 misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum $10,000 fine and a year imprisonment. This category also includes such offenses as unlawful telemarketing practices, late payment of gambling taxes, and failure to present evidence of car insurance. The serious harm caused by publishing intimate pictures without permission deserves punishment at least as severe as these acts. Indeed, some states have made non-consensual pornography a felony.

The law is legally sound and good policy. We are glad to have it on the books in our state.

Colorado’s New Revenge Porn Statute Is Good Law and Sound Policy – Huffington Post
revenge porn – Google News… Read the rest