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Revenge porn website operator claims ‘free speech’ defense

revenge porn site operator in jail

Kevin Bollaert appeared on Sunday Night Photo: Sunday Night

Convicted revenge operator Kevin Bollaert has spoken out from behind bars, claiming he ran the website in defence of [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"].

The 29-year-old San Diego man was [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"]. His website hosted more than 10,000 sexually explicit photos posted by ex-lovers, detailing victims’ names, addresses and social media profiles.

“It was mostly for freedom of speech, First Amendment,” Mr Bollaert told Channel Seven’s Sunday Night, explaining his motives for running the website.

In an extraordinary interview, Mr Bollaert also denied many of the images were shared without the victims’ consent.

“Some of the images are actually of people wanting themselves to be exposed, like exhibitionists,” he said. “Not every single photograph was unconsensual (sic).”

He did, however, admit the site’s purpose was to allow people to post nude photographs out of retribution. The compromising photos cost some victims their jobs, damaged their relationships and even led to one attempted suicide.

“Partially it was used for revenge porn. Some people posted pictures … of women that maybe didn’t want to be exposed on the website, sure,” Mr Bollaert said.

He also ran another website offering his victims the chance to have their photos removed – but for a price.

“I understand that a lot of people were hurt a lot by the website. Especially when I saw them testify in court,” he said.

“I thought it was more of, like, a joke, than damaging people’s lives to that extent, you know?”

Challenged to elaborate further, he offered: “Well, you see, like, on the media, all the other celebrities that get their sex tapes exposed and naked images leaked. It’s more, like, not a big deal. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, I guess.”

He said it took until he was “sitting in court and all the girls were testifying against me and crying” before he realised the full extent of his crimes, admitting it was “really harmful”.

Danish woman Emma Holten, who was a victim of Mr Bollaert’s website in 2011, published her own [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"] late last year to take back consent and power.

“I could never have imagined that my rights could be taken away from me like that,” Ms Holten said on the program.

When asked what he had to say to Ms Holten, Mr Bollaert offered a brief apology.

“Emma, I’m sorry for making the website and I wish I never had done that. That’s pretty much it,” he said.

Mr Bollaert will be eligible for parole in 2025.

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Colorado Governor Signs Bill Banning Revenge Porn

DENVER (CBS4)– It’s now a crime in Colorado to post intimate pictures of someone online for the purpose of humiliating them.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill into law today at the state Capitol which bans “Revenge Porn.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper signs the "Revenge Porn" bill  into law at the state Capitol (credit: CBS)

The push for the law came after CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass confronted the operator of a revenge porn website, Craig Brittain.

He was sharing some people’s most intimate pictures and extorting them, asking the women to pay to have those pictures removed from the site.

After those stories were broadcast on CBS4, Brittain took down his website.

RELATED: Feds Probing Colorado ‘Revenge Porn’ Website

Law enforcement said there was no legal grounds to stop Brittain from posting the pictures.

State Representative Amy Stephens sponsored the bill. She said ruining someone’s life through revenge porn will not be tolerated in Colorado.

“We had some women victims who wrote letters for the committee to read and I really applaud their courage. That’s not easy,” said Stephens, a Republican representing El Paso County. “They got a huge result today. This is a big “W” for them.”

Attorney Andrew Contiguglia was also at the bill signing. He represented several women profiled in the CBS4 investigation. He was successfully able to get their pictures off the internet.

Contiguglia said today’s bill signing is a good start but the law needs to stay nimble and be able to respond to predatory threats as technology changes.

OTHER REVENGE PORN STORIES

Gov. Signs Bill Banning ‘Revenge Porn’ – CBS Local
http://denver.cbslocal.com/video/10214665-gov-signs-bill-banning-revenge-porn/… Read the rest

Reports: Revenge Porn Website Lands Sand Springs Man In Jail

TULSA, Oklahoma –
A Green Country man is behind bars after prosecutors say he was running a, revenge porn website. Casey Meyering is being held at the jail waiting to answer to extortion charges in California.Meyering reportedly posted more than 400 sexually explicit photos and extorted $250 from victims to remove the photos from his website.Legal Blogger Adam Steinbaugh said,

“If they’re going out to Oklahoma to pick them up and drag them back to Northern California they’re serious.”

Agents from California paid a visit to Green Country; a special cybercrimes task force was looking for Meyering in Tulsa. After kicking in the door, agents found Meyering in a midtown hotel room.

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said Meyering, 28, owned a website called “WinByState.com,” that asked the public to post nude and explicit photos of people without their permission.

Meyering reportedly encouraged people to post the photos and identify their “win” according to city and state, sometimes using the victim’s name. The site is described as a “user supported website where you can trade your ex-girlfriend, your current girlfriend, or any other girl that you might know,” according to a news release from the California Department of Justice.

According to court documents, a victim found stolen nude photos of herself on Meyering’s site. The victim wanted the photos taken down, but prosecutors said she had to pay more than $200 to Meyering to get them taken down.

“It’s about pure profit, about lining his pockets off the embarrassment and the exposure of people who are victims and people who have no intention of having their privacy violated in this way,” Harris said.

Prosecutors traced money paid by the victims to a Tulsa bank account in Meyering’s name. Steinbaugh wrote about Meyering’s revenge porn website in June.

“So they’re profiting off of the embarrassment that these people experienced at their hands,” he said.

Steinbaugh said the arrest, regardless of where you live, shows California is serious about taking down these revenge porn websites.

“I think it’s awful what these sites do to people. I think it’s more awful when they hide what they’re doing; they try to extort people. That’s a terrible thing to do and that deserves criticism,” Steinbaugh said.

Meyering was arrested at the Trade Winds Motel in the 3100 block of East Skelly Drive in Tulsa. Police told News On 6 he refused to open the door and officers had to force their way into the hotel room.

He was booked on three felony complaints of attempted extortion. He is being held without bond for Napa County, California.

California has a revenge porn law on the books to prosecute these crimes but Oklahoma does not.

Reports: ‘Revenge Porn’ Website Lands Sand Springs Man In Jail – News On 6
https://news.google.com/news/feeds?hl=en&gl=us&authuser=0&q=revenge+porn&um=1&ie=UTF-8&output=rss
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Oklahoma man arrested in alleged revenge porn extortion

An Oklahoma man who allegedly blackmailed women with nude and sexually explicit photos on his “revenge porn” website has been arrested and faces charges in California, Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris announced Friday.

Casey E. Meyering, 28, of Tulsa, allegedly ran the “revenge porn” website known as WinByState that featured photos either stolen from victims or posted by angry former boyfriends, Harris’ office said.

In a kind of competition among states, the website encouraged men to post photos of women they used to date or of current girlfriends.

The website then required victims to pay $250 via a Google Wallet account to remove the photographs, the officials said. That financial account, registered at a non-existent Beverly Hills storefront, was eventually traced to Meyering.

“This behavior is the very definition of predatory and this website made a game out of humiliating victims for profit,” Harris said in a statement.

The attorney general began to investigate after a Northern California woman discovered stolen nude photos of herself on the site.  Officials said they found 400 postings involving California people and many more from around the country.

Meyering was arrested by California and Oklahoma law enforcement officers and charged with five felony extortion counts. He is resisting extradition to California.

In December, a San Diego man was arrested for allegedly operating a similar website and shakedown operation. Kevin Christopher Bollaert, 27, is awaiting trial on identity theft and extortion charges.

Oklahoma man arrested in alleged ‘revenge porn’ extortions – Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-porn-extortion-20140214,0,6626166.story#axzz2tNJVi6hg
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Copyright Law: Our Best Weapon Against Revenge Porn?

Titian/Rebecca J. Rosen

“Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.” – Sir Francis Bacon

* * *

When federal agents arrested Hunter Moore last month, the Internet breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Dubbed the “Most Hated Man on the Internet,” Moore ran the notorious revenge porn website IsAnyoneUp. His site racked up millions of pageviews and thousands of dollars in advertising revenue by posting sexually explicit photographs and detailed personal information about the people he featured on the site.

According to the indictment, Moore relied on a co-defendant, Charles “Gary Jones” Evens, to hack into victims’ email accounts and obtain nude photographs to feature on IsAnyoneUp. The pair is charged with one count of conspiracy, seven counts of aggravated identity theft, and seven counts of “unauthorized access of a protected computer to obtain information.”

Moore allegedly obtained some of the photos through hacking, but bitter exes submitted many more.

The photos hosted by websites like IsAnyoneUp are often referred to as “revenge porn.” The phenomenon is [B]: One in 10 former partners threaten to post sexually explicit images of their exes online, and an estimated 60 percent follow through. (It’s also worth mentioning that upwards of 80 percent of revenge porn victims are women.)

The harms caused by revenge [B] are very real—people featured on these sites receive solicitations over social media, lose their jobs, or live in fear that their family and future employers will discover the photos.

 

The Origins of [B]

Moore may have been the “King of Revenge Porn,” but he wasn’t the first contender for the throne.

[B]In 1980, someone at Hustler Magazine had the idea to start Beaver Hunt, a contest that published reader-submitted images of naked women. Beaver Hunt photos were often accompanied by details about the woman: her hobbies, her sexual fantasies, and sometimes her name. Some of the photos were stolen. Exes submitted many more.

Throughout the ’80s, women sued Hustler for publishing their photos in Beaver Hunt without their permission. Several courts determined that publishing intimate photos without verifying whether the pictured women actually gave the go-ahead gave the false impression that all of the featured women felt comfortable with their pictures appearing in a “coarse and sex-centered magazine.”

Revenge porn websites have adopted many of the features that made Beaver Hunt notable: showing off user-generated content, submitted without the pictured person’s consent or knowledge, flanked by personal information.

There is one important difference between a nude photo appearing on a website or in the pages of a print magazine. The impact of the photo, even one featured in a popular magazine like Hustler, was still constrained by the fact that it was bound in print. Pages of the magazine could be torn out or photocopied, but the likelihood of a prospective employer coming across a Beaver Hunt photo through happenstance was slim to none.

The likelihood of an employer Googling an applicant and following up on a hit from a [B]? Significantly more likely. Throw links, cross-postings, and email into the mix, and it becomes all the more certain that revenge porn will be discovered.

 

Problems with Preventing Revenge Porn

In many ways, the lawsuits pending against revenge porn websites echo the privacy suits brought against Beaver Hunt. So far, though, victims have had limited success going after revenge porn uploaders and websites.

It isn’t because existing laws aren’t applicable. Victims who are photographed without their knowledge can use state voyeurism or Peeping Tom laws. Victims whose photos were Photoshopped or whose names were linked to naked images of other people may be able to use defamation law. Because an estimated 40 percent of non-consensual pornography was obtained through hacking, those victims can rely on the civil provisions of the federal hacking law—the same one used to prosecute Moore.

So why haven’t all these sites been shut down?

Many of the lawsuits against revenge porn websites are for tort claims like stalking, harassment or invasion of privacy. The problem is that most stalking and harassment laws are not applicable to revenge porn submitters because there is no repeated course of conduct or direct communication with the victim. False light claims for invasion of privacy—like those alleged by women who were featured in Beaver Hunt without their knowledge—may be successful against submitters. However, these laws don’t provide victims with a way to take down cross-posted, cached or linked versions of their photos on other websites.

That would require additional injunctions against additional parties, and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act renders most claims against websites dead on arrival.

Section 230 protects interactive service providers, or ISPs, from liability for user-generated content. That protection does not apply if an ISP is also an information content provider, meaning that the ISP hosts both original and user-[B]. Revenge porn websites aren’t creating the sexually explicit photos they post. In fact, more than 80 percent of revenge porn photos are “selfies.”

Getting rid of something like Section 230 may seem appealing—why shouldn’t revenge porn websites be held responsible for the salacious selfies they post?

Section 230 was enacted after Stratton Oakmont, the financial firm of The Wolf of Wall Street fame, [B] against the early ISP Prodigy. Congress was worried that allowing ISPs to be held liable for user-generated content would crush the Internet. Even in the early ’90s, enough people were plugged into services like Prodigy and AOL that policing every piece of user-generated content would have been impossible.

As broad as it seems, Section 230 doesn’t give websites carte blanche to host any and all user-generated content—immunity does not apply to violations of child pornography, obscenity, criminal or intellectual property laws. Narrowing Section 230, or getting rid of it entirely, would allow victims to hold revenge porn websites responsible for the content they host.

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