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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

California Arrest for Running a Revenge Pornography Website

From the website of the California Attorney General:

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arrest of the alleged owner and operator of a revenge porn website who facilitated the posting of more than 10,000 sexually explicit photos and extorted victims for as much as $350 each to remove the illicit content. 
. . . 
Court documents allege that, in December 2012, [Kevin Christopher] Bollaert created the website, which allows the anonymous, public posting of private photographs containing nude and explicit images of individuals without their permission. Commonly knows as revenge porn, the photos are typically obtained consensually by the poster during a prior relationship or are stolen or hacked. Unlike many other revenge porn websites where the subject of the photos is anonymous, required that the poster include the subject’s full name, location, age and facebook profile link. 
California Penal Code sections 530.5 and 653m (b) make it 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.
A pdf of the complaint is available here.  For more background and various perspectives on the push to criminalize revenge pornography, see this article from the New York Times.  I found Eugene Volokh's point in that article that laws criminalizing this type of content would not violate the First Amendment because the law typically prohibits invasions of privacy without any constitutional problems.

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