reputation repair

Revenge porn purveyor labelled ‘worst man on internet’ has change of heart

Scott Breitenstein cashed in on the internet phenomenon of Revenge Porn.

A REVENGE porn mogul labelled “an internet terrorist” has announced an astonishing change of heart, removing thousands of nude photos from the web.

Scott Breitenstein spent years raking in cash from providing a platform for users to post sexually explicit, non-consensual images of their exes, alongside personal details.

The 45-year-old’s website was so prominent on Google, it would often be the first result if you searched a victim’s name, ruining their lives and even driving one woman to suicide.

But two weeks after filming a documentary with fusion.net, Breitenstein claimed he had finally seen the error of his ways, and has now removed all the naked photos from his website. The Ohio husband and father of one says the move has caused his monthly earnings from the website to drop from $1200 to just $200.

It’s a surprising about-face from a man who appears unrepentant in the documentary about collecting tens of thousands of dollars in settlements from victims who tried to get their photos removed.

In one scene, he shows the camera a naked picture of one a teacher, along with a picture of her school and her email address, one that will have now been inundated with sick, aggressive messages.

“Whore by night, elementary third grade schoolteacher by day,” reads the caption. The photo had been viewed 982,000 times.

While posting revenge porn is now illegal in some US states, running a website that hosts it remains legal. Victims, 90 per cent of whom are women, can file a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) complaint, forcing the site to disable the image.

But Breitenstein told fusion.net that if the victim didn’t file for an injunction within ten or 14 business days then he would reinstate the post. “That wastes our time, so what we do is we charge them $10,000.”

He did draw the line at child pornography, but demanded photographic ID from girls to prove they were under 18 before he would remove a post.

Adam Steinbaugh, an LA lawyer who specializes in revenge porn and has confronted Breitenstein in the past, told news.com.au: “I don’t believe Breitenstein’s change of heart for a moment. He took the oh-so-courageous step of deleting a category on his website, but still posts revenge porn in other categories and on other sites.

“Breitenstein’s story is a lot like other revenge porn site operators: they’re often impoverished, usually male, and they universally have little, if any, regard for the impact their sites have on people.

“Many, if not most, are victims of some form of domestic violence, as posting revenge porn is often part of a course of conduct intending to harass and intimidate the victim. When they do talk, what they say is uniform: they’re hurt and they’re scared.”

It’s a vile enterprise, but a lucrative one. Breitenstein, a former plumber and electrician, bought his website, ComplaintsBureau.com, from a previous owner, when it was solely a consumer rights forum.

Many of those posts were defamatory and had devastating effects on businesses with no right no reply. But when one user posted a naked photo of a cheating ex, traffic to the site went through the roof, and Breitenstein began making serious money from Google ads.

He faced all sorts of roadblocks. His site was dropped by several internet providers, before he began hosting it in France, and was hacked by a member of vigilante group Anonymous, who called him a disgrace to the country. He was once threatened at gunpoint.

Homeland Security even removed the site for a year after an extremist shared a photo of a beheading and Breitenstein stuck to his usual policy of ignoring requests for removal.

It was only when the documentary producers showed him a videoed message from revenge porn victim and Cyber Civil Rights Initiative campaigner Annmarie Chiarini that Breitenstein said he’d seen the light.

Unfortunately, he’s far from the only entrepreneur callously making money from humiliating women. This is big business, and the authorities have been slow to do much about it.

Rachel Lynn Craig, a 28-year-old from Virginia, became the first person to be charged with revenge porn in October 2014, when she was accused of posting an image of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend naked on Facebook.

Hunter Moore, Breitenstein’s main competitor for the title of “most hated man on the internet”, was sentenced to just two years in prison in December for stealing and distributing thousands of naked images on his website, IsAnyoneUp.

The 29-year-old Californian was ordered to pay just $145 in restitution to the women whose lives he destroyed when he hacked their computers.

As for Breitenstein, lawyer Mr Steinbaugh alleges he has created some of his revenge porn copies himself, and reposted some content from other sites. If that’s the case, he would be liable. He could also potentially be prosecuted under various child pornography laws.

He’s keeping his head down for now, running ComplaintsBureau as a straightforward consumer advocacy site, along with ethically dubious but text-based STDRegistry, CheatersRUs and ReportMyEx. He says he might have to close his previously most successful website if business doesn’t improve.

He may be financially worse off, but at least he’s finally done the right thing.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

emma.reynolds@news.com.au /

http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/security/revenge-porn-purveyor-labelled-worst-man-on-internet-has-change-of-heart/news-story/e72205349bc6012cc5b0ccefde7304ccRead the rest

South Australian Government moves to make ‘revenge porn’ a crime

South Australia proposed revenge porn laws

DISTRIBUTING nude images of an ex-partner without their consent could soon be a crime under a State Government proposal.

Attorney-General John Rau has released draft laws which would criminalize “revenge porn” — the distribution of intimate and pornographic images without consent.

Mr Rau said the proposed laws would also address concerns about the potential for young people who “sext” — sending or receiving sexually explicit images — being listed on the Child Sex Offender Register.

Under the proposal, prosecutors and courts would be given added “flexibility” to consider the context of a young person’s behavior when deciding whether they should be listed on the Register.

The push to ban revenge pornography followed a recent in which intimate images of more than 400 Adelaide women were published on a US website.

Under the government’s proposal, – currently out for consultation – a person who threatens to distribute an invasive image or intends to “arouse a fear” that the threat would be carried out would be guilty of an offense, carrying a maximum penalty of $10,000 or two years jail, if the image was of a minor, or $5000 or 12 months jail if the image depicted an adult.

It would also increase the penalty for distributing an image of a minor to a maximum fine of$20,000 or four years jail, singling it out as an offense worthy of harsher penalty.

Mr Rau said what might start out as a bit of fun between two people may end up causing great distress and ruining lives.

“Young people in particular need to understand that if they take a naked selfie and share it with one person — that image might be shared with hundreds, possibly thousands of other people,” Mr Rau said.

“These images can all-too-often be used as a means of bullying and harassment, as once an image enters cyberspace, it is there forever.”

Mr Rau said while no minor had been listed on the Child Sex Offenders Register for a sexting related offense, there was potential for it to occur and that needed to be addressed.

“Whilst there will still be cases where a young person may be properly charged with an offense relating to child exploitation material, these new laws ensure there is flexibility for prosecutors and courts to consider the context of the behavior,” he said.

“This is something that the late Bob Such was a strong advocate for and I am pleased the government will be able to progress this issue when Parliament resumes in the new year.”

A discussion paper will be released in the new year.

The draft laws can be accessed online.

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/south-australian-government-moves-to-make-revenge-porn-a-crime/news-story/1b98fd867079f2369979667110888a74… Read the rest

Google responsible for linking to websites containing defamatory content

Google responsible for linking to defamatory websites

The South Australian Supreme Court this week found that Google is legally responsible when its search results link to defamatory content on the web.

In this long-running case, Dr Janice Duffy has been trying for more than six years to clear her name and remove links to defamatory material when people search for her using Google.

The main culprit is the US based website Ripoff Reports, where people have posted negative reviews of Dr Duffy. Under United States law, defamation is very hard to prove, and US websites are not liable for comments made by their users.

Since it was not possible to get harmful or abusive comments removed from the source, Dr Duffy instead asked Google to remove the links from its search results. Google removed some of these links, but only from its Australian domain (google.com.au), and it left many of them active.

This latest court decision is a big win for Dr Duffy. The court found that once Google was alerted to the defamatory material, it was then under an obligation to act to censor its search results and prevent further harm to Dr Duffy’s reputation.

This case is not yet over. It now goes back to court on on November 3 to establish damages that Google may be ordered to pay. Google may also choose to appeal to the High Court.
Jurisdictional uncertainty

This case highlights a complex jurisdiction problem: this case was against Google Inc, a US company, not Google Australia. Dr Duffy lost a case against Google Australia several years ago, because the court found that the search giant’s Australian arm had no effective control over search results.

Essentially, transnational corporations like Google are able to structure their operations to benefit from US law, which provides them with much greater protection. Google’s Australian arm handles support and sales, but does not operate the search engine itself.

In the United States, the First Amendment protects publishers, unless the plaintiff can show that the publisher deliberately acted maliciously.

Search engines, website hosts, social networks and other internet operators have an additional layer of protection in the US under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This means that they are immune from lawsuits over content that is posted by third parties.

What this means is that foreign corporations can often ignore Australian judgements. It is practically impossible to enforce an Australian award for damages or an order that the search engine remove the content in US courts.

It also means that Australian technology companies are disadvantaged compared to foreign operators. The uncertainty and risks of our law mean that many companies are unable to operate in Australia, which is a real loss to Australian innovation and to local consumers.
Liability for linking

Australian courts face a difficult question when interpreting defamation law. The law is still unclear about when someone can be held responsible for the actions of an unrelated third party. This is only the latest in a series of cases against Google and others — and courts have come to conflicting decisions.

Defamation law protects the reputation of individuals. It is unlawful to publish false information that causes others to think less of another person. Historically, defamation law applies to everyone involved in publication — from journalists, to editors, publishers and even newsagents.

In the digital age, the boundaries of liability are very uncertain. Google has argued that it should not be treated as a “publisher” just because it indexes websites created by others. Google also argued that it should not be responsible for search results produced automatically by its search algorithms.

But the court here found that Google was liable for just linking to defamatory content. In this case, Google has no control over what people post on the Ripoff Report but it does help people find and access those comments.

Australians deserve to be protected by the law; it is dangerous to enable US law to dictate our standards. This threat of American legal hegemony is what worried the High Court so much in the 2002 Dow Jones v Gutnick case.

At the same time, it is dangerous to require private companies to decide what content is lawful and what content must be removed.

The trade-offs here are extremely difficult. On the one hand, where search engines and other intermediaries are not held to account, people are exposed to real harm by the continued availability of abusive and defamatory content.

On the other hand, holding these private companies responsible, particularly if they are forced to pay damages, means that they will often either leave the country or limit their risks by removing speech that may not actually be unlawful.
A faster, more legitimate process

Internet intermediaries like Google, Facebook and others clearly have some role to play in preventing the distribution of harmful abuse and defamatory material on their networks. But the law must also be sensitive to the real dangers of holding these companies liable.

More than anything, this case shows that we need better, more legitimate mechanisms for addressing complaints about harmful material online.

Ultimately, it’s likely that we need some compromise here — new procedures that do not take six years and millions of dollars in court costs to protect people’s rights, but that are able to efficiently, transparently and legitimately investigate complaints.

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/google-responsible-for-linking-to-defamatory-websites-australian-court-20151101-gko9l8.htmlRead the rest