Woman’s ex headed for trial under new Wisconsin revenge porn law

In what has become an increasingly common phenomenon, a Milwaukee woman had to face having nude and seminude photos of her posted on the Internet in April as collateral damage of a messy breakup.

Her ex, Keslin Jean Jacques, told her there was nothing she could do to stop him, according to a criminal complaint, because Gov. Scott Walker had not yet signed into law a bill aimed at outlawing the practice.

Apparently he hadn’t been keeping up with the news.

Walker had signed the bill 12 days earlier, and Jean Jacques, 31, of Milwaukee, became one of the first people charged under the new law on April 22.

The offense — posting or publishing a sexually explicit image without consent — is a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months in jail and $10,000 fine.

Jean Jacques’ case is scheduled for trial Wednesday.

It was initially set for August, but a committee was still working on the standard jury instructions for the new charge.

Revenge porn involves the publication of intimate photos that were once shared willingly, often with identifying information, even an email address or phone number of the subject, almost always a female.

The first inclination of many victims and their lawyers is to try to get Internet service providers or social media sites to take down the images, or to hold them liable, but the federal Communications Decency Act largely provides immunity to platforms for what their users do.

The practice has been charged as cyberstalking or harassment in some states.

Other victims have tried personal injury actions against ex-lovers who post the photos. Some scholars have even suggested copyright law might be an effective tool, since many of the explicit photos are “selfies,” taken by the subjects themselves.

California was the first state to pass legislation specifically aimed at revenge porn, and prosecutors won the first conviction under that 2013 law last month.

About a dozen states have tried to follow California’s lead and outlaw the practice but have run into First Amendment concerns (except when the subjects are minors; then child pornography laws apply).

In Arizona, booksellers challenged a 2014 law that made revenge porn a felony as overbroad and likely to make criminal books that contain certain nude images that really don’t fit the intent of the law.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn this week signed into law a measure that bans the practice of revenge porn, according to the Chicago Tribune. The law makes it a felony to post sexually explicit videos and photos of another person online without his or her permission.

Wisconsin’s law prohibits publication of “private representation” without the consent of the person depicted.

It defines “private representation” as a nude or partially nude image intended by the subject to be “captured, viewed or possessed” only by the person intended by the subject.

It does not require any intent by the publisher to embarrass the subject; an ex-boyfriend who claims he was publishing the photo to bring the subject compliments would be just as guilty.

The Wisconsin law also provides an exception for posting a private image “that is newsworthy or of public importance.”

Woman’s ex headed for trial under new Wisconsin revenge porn law – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
revenge porn – Google News

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Woman’s ex headed for trial under new Wisconsin revenge porn law

Seattle man sentenced for posting revenge porn of women

A 31-year-old Seattle man was sentenced to one year in jail on Friday for posting nude photos of women on two different websites in a bizarre case of “revenge porn.”

Jeremy “Silo” Walters, a photographer and computer technician, pleaded guilty to first-degree computer trespass and four counts of cyberstalking, a gross misdemeanor charge. He faced a standard sentence of up to 90 days behind bars, but agreed to an exceptional sentence for abusing the trust of one victim and to avoid prosecution for a domestic-violence charge involving a woman he apparently dated for a time.

According to charging documents, Walters was hired by a woman in June 2011 through an ad posted on Craigslist to transfer data from an old computer to a new one. Included on her hard drive were several hundred explicit photos a friend had taken of the woman, along with nude “selfies” she had stored for her personal use, the papers say.

More than two years later, in December 2013, the woman began receiving threatening phone calls from Walters, the papers say. He threatened to send naked photos of the woman to her family and friends if she refused to “play along,” then threatened to rape her and gang rape her with his friends, charging papers say.

After calling police, the woman received a message from a friend in England who said nude photos of the woman were posted on the revenge-porn site myex.com, the papers say. The following day, she got another phone call and Walters again threatened to send the photos to her loved ones if she refused his sexual demands, according to the charges.

In the days and weeks after the first post to myex.com, he sent links to the photos to her friends and family, charging papers say.

A friend conducted a forensic examination on the woman’s computer, determined that her machine hadn’t been hacked and concluded the photos had been stolen directly off her hard drive, the papers say.

In February, the woman picked Walters’ photo out of a montage, telling police he was the man she paid $60 to transfer her data, according to the charges. In June, Seattle detectives served a search warrant on Walters’ apartment near North Seattle College, and police say Walters admitted to posting the photos because he was angry at the woman and gave detectives an external hard drive where he had stored the photos, the papers say.

He was charged with first-degree computer trespass, a felony, and cyberstalking on June 27.

In August, he was charged with two additional counts of cyberstalking for posting nude photos of two other women on myex.com around the same time he posted photos of the first woman, court records show. The documents don’t provide information about how he obtained the other victims’ photos, but one of those women appears to have been a former girlfriend — and the charge pertaining to her carries an allegation of domestic violence.

On Monday, the same day he entered his guilty pleas, Walters was charged with a fourth count of cyberstalking for posting a nude photo of a fourth woman on Craigslist in January, the court records say. Those charging papers don’t provide details on how Walters is suspected of obtaining that photo.


Seattle man sentenced for posting ‘revenge porn’ of women – The Seattle Times (blog)

Seattle man sentenced for posting ‘revenge porn’ of women

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Cyberstalkers, revenge porn creeps, and other tales from the World Wide Hate

California Attorney General Kamala Harris had exhilaration in her eyes as she publicly announced in late 2013 that her eCrime Unit finally had shut down one of the most notorious revenge-porn websites in the world. The men charged were innocent unless proved guilty in court, but the website of stolen, pornographic and debasing photographs was something no one should have to endure, she said.

The website was considered so disgusting and destructive that a couple of detectives in two different countries had begged me not to mention its web address for fear of further humiliating and endangering the women whose naked photos had been posted by vindictive ex-lovers or “friends.”

Eventually, the police pulled the plug on the site, but what I saw before that happened is hard to forget: thousands of photographs — more than 10,000 it turns out — of women, teens, and underage girls captured in revealing positions never meant for prying eyes; of youthful drunken group sex; and of confident women in revealing lingerie whose partners would one day turn their personal information and photographs over to strangers as part of their hateful revenge campaigns. I cried the first time I found the site, plastered with the smiling, unsuspecting faces of girls and women, along with desperate pleas for mercy from the victims and their families alike.

“PLEASE HELP! I am scared for my life! People are calling my workplace, and they obtained that information through this site! I did not give permission for anyone to put up those pictures or my [and]. I have contacted the police, but those pictures need to come down! Please!” reads one post, which is now entered as evidence in an extortion case.

In another message posted to the now defunct website, a new husband begs the owner to show a semblance of humanity for his devastated wife. When her nude photograph — taken years earlier at a party — was posted, he said she lost her teaching job, which also hurt her students, who loved her. They fled their community after locals turned against them. (No word on what happened to the two naked men in the candid photograph.)

Revenge-porn victims around the world no doubt rejoiced when they heard Kevin Christopher Bollaert, a 27-year-old San Diego man, had been arrested in connection with the site. In court documents, police alleged Bollaert had set up a callous criminal scheme to capitalize on men’s desire to humiliate or harm women. Internet technology makes it easy for the angry, the vindictive, the mentally ill, and the intoxicated to shatter lives. There are many more sites online that routinely post stolen intimate photographs and videos, often of underage girls, but this particular site had an additional grim twist, police say.

He posed as a ‘good guy’ running a scrub website; in exchange for hundreds of dollars, he removed the very same photographs he’d solicited and posted

Bollaert allegedly got help from family and friends to set up the extortion website, through which he asked for images, but also personal details of the victims: full names, ages, addresses, telephone numbers, and [and] accounts, which, police say, he then made public. The scheme was to allegedly get other people to join in the harassment and tormenting of the targets. The more people harassed and stalked the victims, the greater the odds that they’d unwittingly turn to Bollaert. Why? Because he’d allegedly also set up a sister website, called changemyreputation.com. There, police say he posed as a “good guy” running a scrub website; in exchange for hundreds of dollars, he removed the very same photographs he’d solicited and posted. Police shut that one down, too.

Pleas for help from the women, like the ones that made me cry, were also entered into evidence by the California prosecutor: “I have gone to the police, I’ve had a restraining order put in place because of this site [and] my phone has been going off EVERY 2 MINUTES with strange men sending inappropriate things to me.”

Another woman posted: “It’s disgusting. Also, I’ve had to … have a sexual harassment charge put in place in court because of this. I don’t know what gets you off about ruining people’s lives, but I was underaged in the photos posted of me so, yes, you are showing child pornography.”

In the media, Harris announced 31 felony counts against Bollaert, and made it clear that she was on the warpath for more arrests. But minutes after Bollaert’s arrest flashed across the newswires, I checked the notorious site; it was “parked” on the French server, Gandi. So, it was still there, lying low, on standby. The website’s documentation shows Bollaert appears to have used his own name when registering both websites in 2012, and that he’d applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a site trademark.

It’s remarkable that Melissa Nester will even talk about the last few years of her life spent in the Web net of an adult cyberstalker who cost her the career she loved, all her money, and the sense of security that comes from growing up in a privileged American family. Ironically, all Nester had wanted to do was share her good fortune with a woman in need. “No good deed goes unpunished, right,” she says when I reach her by telephone in northern California.

Nester’s nightmare began when the divorced mother of two, who at the time was working at a charity fundraiser, joined an online forum where women shared tips about kids, food, books, love, and life. “Mary” quickly came to the group’s attention. “She was kicked out on the street, had no money, said that she was starving, that she has no jewelery. She had these pets that were her only thing keeping her alive that she loves so much, and that her husband would beat her … and basically she might as well end it.”

Nester and other forum members stepped up, sending Mary cash and gifts, beginning in 2010.

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Google Could Be Forced to Delete Links and Sensitive information

On May 13, the European Union’s highest court struck what appeared to be a significant blow for privacy, ruling that Google could be forced to delete links and other sensitive information about a user upon his or her request. In an age of rampant identity theft and data breaches, as well as more sinister, personal examples of private data going public such as revenge porn, this was a win worth celebrating. And it has many questioning if such a law could ever pass in the United States.

The short answer: No. “The publication of truthful fact, in a public forum, is robustly protected by the first amendment,” says Lee Rowland, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. From a strictly legal perspective, the EU’s “right to be forgotten” decision would be a clear violation of the constitutional right to free speech. “The first amendment protects speech that is a matter of public concern. It’s not only the right to speak about it but also to hear about it,” Rowland explains.

Consider, for example, the details of the case that triggered the EU’s unappealable decision.

A Spanish attorney failed to pay his taxes and had to sell off property in a public auction. A newspaper ran the details of said auction, as newspapers do. That information made its standard way to the Internet, and Google did what Google does, supplying linked search results to it.

There was nothing illegal about the newspaper’s publication of the auction results. And as personally embarrassing as those details may have been to the attorney, Rowland believes the public has a right to know that a practicing lawyer is a confirmed tax cheat. “Imagine if there were a plastic surgeon with a legal history of doing terrible things to people’s faces,” Rowland says. “Wouldn’t you as a consumer want to be able to find evidence of those lawsuits?”

Then again, most of the people championing the EU decision aren’t disgraced lawyers hoping to scrub their own sins from the Internet. The positive response has to do with shifting the balance of power online and issuing takedown orders to companies—like Google—that collect and disseminate our private information without permission. Blunt and unconstitutional as it might be, an equivalent U.S. ruling or law could also cripple revenge porn sites, forcing them to remove nude photos and images at an individual’s request, without discussion or delay.

It’s a solution that even dedicated anti-revenge porn groups don’t want. “It’s about the expectation of privacy,” says Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and board member of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI).

The EU ruling punishes Google for indexing publicly available information, which could be of enormous value to the Spanish attorney’s current or prospective clients. That attorney has not only relinquished his expectation of privacy, but there’s good reason (arguably) for the public to have access to what the newspaper lawfully published. And while the EU has no equivalent of the first amendment, U.S. law almost always tilts in favor of free speech as a founding bulwark against entrenched, institutional corruption.

In the case of revenge porn, however, “there’s no free speech interest in publishing nude photos,” Citron says. “If someone shares nude images or permits them to be taken, when those are released, the wrong is the intentional violation of that confidentiality, not the search engine’s reproduction of it.”

The real solution, according to Citron, is to enforce laws that are already in place—in many revenge porn cases, photos are actually obtained through hacking the victim’s phone or computer—as well to pass extremely narrow legislation that specifically targets individual privacy breaches while also giving the first amendment a wide berth. The CCRI helped draft an anti-revenge porn bill in Maryland (which was unanimously approved by the Maryland’s House of Delegates this past March and is currently with the state’s senate) that more clearly defines the illegal activity and corresponding penalties. “That law would punish a very narrow set of privacy violations that have a profound impact on victims lives,” Citron says.

RELATED: Revenge Porn King Hunter Moore Finally Arrested

Yet she also believes that the new law falls short by not including a provision that would allow for the takedown of a victim’s photos and videos beyond the offender’s site. So even if those files vanish in one place, they could live on throughout the Internet.

Unrelated to revenge porn, Citron would also support regulations or legislation that allow users to demand that data brokers—the companies that track our activity online and resell that data to advertisers and other third parties—delete that collected information, on the grounds that it’s not public or of public interest.

If those sound suspiciously like requests for some version of the EU ruling—with its expansive demands for link deletion—welcome to the complex, circuitous world of digital privacy. But the key issue is, once again, the expectation of privacy. Nude photos and online spending habits are private. Proof that a lawyer was found guilty of breaking the law is not. Unlike the right to free speech, which is relatively easy to define and quite literally the first concern of the U.S. Constitution, the right to privacy is a necessarily complicated concept defined by context and exceptions. And while the two rights can come into direct conflict, freedom of speech tends to bolster privacy, allowing news outlets to cover the NSA’s more nefarious spying activities, for example.

Neither the CCRI nor the ACLU are claiming that stateside privacy laws are perfect. Citron is pushing for an update to the federal cyberstalking law that would demand a takedown of specific victim-related data if the offender is found guilty (a topic addressed at length in her book, Hate 3.0: A Civil Rights Agenda to Combat Discriminatory Online Harassment, due out this August). And Rowland is concerned about privacy violations that lead back to the government, including the public release of mugshots, even for individuals who were booked but never convicted.… Read the rest

Revenge porn victim tells story, fights for change – WTOP

WASHINGTON – “It was completely devastating when I first found the pictures – I could feel myself go into shock.”

Holly Jacobs had no idea the racy photographs she’d shared with her boyfriend would be used against her in a publicly humiliating way after they broke up.

Yet, in 2009 a friend called to say Jacobs’ Facebook account had been hacked and a nude photo was online.

And it got worse.

“My photos and a video of me were up on a revenge porn website,” says Jacobs, who legally changed her name in the aftermath.

With her name, phone number and email address posted online, Jacobs was bombarded with unwanted attention. Her photos and videos were even sent to her boss.

Revenge porn sites make no bones about why they exist.

“They bill themselves as places in which we can get back at our exes,” says Professor Danielle Keats Citron of the University of Maryland law school.

And in most cases the sites are legal, says Citron.

New Jersey is the only state to make it a felony to share a person’s nude images without that person’s consent, although a bill cracking down on revenge porn in California is expected to be in the hands of the state’s governor shortly, Bloomberg reports.

“If this happened in Maryland it would be prosecuted under a statute called ‘Misuse of Electronic Communication,'” which is a misdemeanor with a maximum prison sentence of one year, says Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.

“It’s basically cyberharassment, which is an attempt to harass, alarm or annoy without any legitimate purpose to do so,” Gansler says.

In Virginia, harassment by computer is also a misdemeanor.

See more on the California effort in the video below:

Florida, where Jacobs lives, recently rejected a call to toughen its laws to protect against revenge porn.

After four years of trying to get the images taken down, Jacobs has sued her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Seay, who reportedly has said someone hacked into his computer and posted the photographs of Jacobs. Seay’s attorney, Charles Arline, denies the allegations against his client. “We’re anticipating making these legal arguments very soon,” he tells WTOP.

Jacobs also has created an advocacy website called End Revenge Porn.

The website refers to revenge porn as “a form of cyber-rape.” Jacobs warns women to protect their privacy by avoiding sharing potentially compromising photos.

“I know you might love and trust your boyfriend, but you just never know what’s going to happen when you break up,” says Jacobs.

Having personal images go viral is painful for any victim, Jacobs says. “Imagine telling your dad that there are nude photos and a video of you on the Internet,” says Jacobs.

Citron is advocating for Congress to amend the federal cyberstalking law to cover the use of any computer service that produces or discloses a sexually graphic image of a person without that person’s permission.

Revenge porn victim tells story, fights for change – WTOP
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Revenge porn should be a crime

Editor’s note: Danielle Keats Citron is the Lois K. Macht Research Professor and professor of law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She is an affiliate scholar at the Stanford Center on Internet and Society and an affiliate fellow at the Yale Information Society Project. She is writing a book on online harassment, which will be published by Harvard University Press. Follow her on Twitter.

(CNN) — “Jane” allowed her ex-boyfriend to take her naked photograph because, he assured her, it would be for his eyes only. After their breakup, the man betrayed her trust.

On the revenge porn site UGotPosted, he uploaded her naked photo and contact information. Jane received calls, e-mails, and Facebook friend requests from hundreds of strangers, many of whom wanted sex.

After the site refused to take down the post and the anonymous calls and e-mails intensified, she turned to law enforcement. According to the officers, nothing could be done because her ex had not engaged in a harassing “course of conduct,” as required by criminal harassment law, and because he had not explicitly solicited others to stalk her.

Criminal law should have a role in deterring and punishing revenge porn. It’s not new that certain types of privacy invasions are crimes. Many states prohibit the nonconsensual taking of sexually explicit images — the disclosure of someone’s naked images should be criminalized as well.

But in all but one state, New Jersey, turning people into objects of pornography without their permission is legal. A single post, however, can go viral and ruin someone’s life.

Revenge porn and its ilk raise the risk of offline stalking and physical attack. Fear can be profound. Victims don’t feel safe leaving their homes. Jane, who is a nurse, did not go to work for days. As many victims have told me, they struggle especially with anxiety, and some suffer panic attacks. Revenge porn victims withdraw from online engagement, shutting down their social media profiles and blogs to prevent strangers from finding them online. They cannot participate fully in our networked age.

The professional costs of revenge porn are steep. Because searches of victims’ names display their naked images, they lose their jobs. Schools have fired teachers whose naked photos appeared on revenge porn sites. A government agency terminated a woman’s employment after a co-worker circulated her nude photograph to colleagues.

Victims may be unable to find work at all. According to a 2009 Microsoft study, more than 80% of employers rely on candidates’ online reputations as an employment screen. Common reasons for not interviewing and hiring applicants include concerns about their “lifestyle,” “inappropriate” online comments, and “unsuitable” photographs, videos, and information about them.

Recruiters don’t contact victims to see if they posted nude photos of themselves or if someone else did in violation of their trust. The simple but regrettable truth is that after consulting search results, employers don’t call revenge porn victims to schedule an interview or to extend offers. It’s just seen as good business to avoid hiring people whose search results would reflect poorly on them.

Revenge porn is a harmful form of bigotry and sexual harassment. It exposes victims’ sexuality in humiliating ways. Their naked photos appear on slut shaming sites. Once their naked images are exposed, anonymous strangers send e-mail messages that threaten rape. Some have said: “First I will rape you, then I’ll kill you.” Victims internalize these frightening and demeaning messages.

New Jersey is the only state to make it a felony to disclose a person’s nude or partially nude images without that person’s consent. The New Jersey statute is a helpful model for states like California that are considering proposals to criminalize revenge porn. Congress should amend the federal cyberstalking law, 18 U.S.C. § 2261A, to cover the use of any interactive computer service to produce or disclose a sexually graphic visual depiction of an individual without that individual’s consent.

What about First Amendment objections to legislative proposals to criminalize revenge porn? A narrowly crafted criminal statute like New Jersey’s can be reconciled with our commitment to free speech. First Amendment protections are less rigorous for purely private matters because the threat of liability would not risk chilling the meaningful exchange of ideas.

Listeners and speakers have no legitimate interest in nude photos or sex tapes published without the subjects’ permission. That online users can claim a prurient interest in viewing sexual images does not transform them into a matter of legitimate public concern. Nonconsensual pornography lacks First Amendment value as a historical matter, and could be understood as categorically unprotected as obscenity. Although the Court’s obscenity doctrine has developed along different lines with distinct justifications, nonconsensual pornography can be seen as part of obscenity’s long tradition of proscription.

Criminalizing revenge porn is a crucial step in protecting victims from real and profound harms to their physical, emotional, and financial health and safety. It would deter damaging privacy invasions and send the powerful message that posting someone’s most private moments, most often in a breach of their trust and without their permission, is unacceptable.

That lesson needs to be repeated early and often before online users, especially young people, think that shaming and terrorizing individuals is an acceptable practice. We need a “cyber civil rights” agenda to combat bigoted online abuse. The criminalization of nonconsensual disclosure of someone’s naked images is an important part of that agenda.

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‘Revenge porn’ should be a crime – CNN International
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