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Revenge Porn and other Garbage

HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer

Thursday, June 11, 2015



Revenge Porn and other Garbage
Kevin Bollaert - Convicted

The internet is a double-edged sword, concurrently brilliant with potential but terrible with pitfalls. Some of the more contemptible web users exploit both edges by posting revenge porn and other offal to harm others and/or extort money from them. Fortunately, the authorities provide several means for counteracting and punishing these dolts, sometimes even if the material was originally posted as a “selfie” by the victim.

“Revenge porn” is sexually explicit content, usually videos and photos, publicly posted online without the consent of a person shown in that content. It is usually used by males against females, such as ex-girlfriends and ex-wives. Harmful content is not limited to revenge porn, of course; it can include private information, lies, or basically any media exposing another person to ridicule or other injury. Some enterprising criminals provide online sites for posting the injurious material, and then extort money from the victims in order to remove that material from their sites. The victims are victimized twice, once by a jerk seeking revenge and again by a jerk seeking money.

How, then, can a victim counteract this scheme? First, there are criminal and civil laws against extortion and against illegally obtaining and posting personal information, even on the seemingly free-wheeling internet. Kevin Bollaert, recently sentenced to 18 years in prison and ordered to $10,000 in restitution, is incorrectly called the first person sentenced under California’s revenge porn law; he was charged before the revenge porn law took effect and was actually convicted and sentenced under good old-fashioned criminal laws against unlawfully obtaining/posting and extortion. Secondly, several states have enacted “revenge porn” laws. California became the first state to address this problem, adding §1708.85 to its Civil Code. Approved by the Governor and filed with California’s Secretary of State on September 30, 2014, the law’s text can be read here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/statquery More than a dozen other states, including New York, have also passed revenge porn laws. Third, some enterprising individuals are using civil suits based on copyright laws. For example, the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project has brought federal copyright suits in behalf of victims. Here, the victim must publicly register the material to obtain the underlying copyright, which can be unpleasant but is necessary to bring the suit. This approach is now being used when the victim originally posted the material as a “selfie.” The Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project can be accessed here: https://www.cyberrightsproject.com/ Fourth, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also combatting revenge porn and the like as “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce” in violation of § 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FTC used this method to tie the hands of Craig Brittain, a fellow who used Craigslist to deceive women for revenge porn and extortion site. A victim of revenge porn and/or extortion can file a complaint with the FTC here https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Finally, remember that you are not necessarily limited to a single remedy; you may be able to use two or more of the remedies against revenge porn, extortion or other harmful online acts against you.

DO’S AND DON’TS

DO use criminal and civil laws against extortion and against illegally obtaining and posting personal information. Speak to a private attorney to determine your best course of action.

DO use “revenge porn” laws, if available in your state.

DO bring civil suits based on copyright laws. The Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project, which is bringing such cases in behalf of victims, can be accessed here: https://www.cyberrightsproject.com/

DO contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to file a complaint here https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

DON’T limit yourself to a single remedy. Many victims can use two or more of these remedies to combat revenge porn, extortion and other harmful online acts.

By Kathy Catanzarite


Source: Kathy Catanzarite - Handelonthelaw.com Staff Writer

Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.





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