Revenge Porn Website Creator Faces 31 Criminal Charges - Technologist
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Revenge Porn Website Creator Faces 31 Criminal Charges

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

The other shoe has dropped -- a recently enacted revenge porn law has reached the point of criminal prosecution in California.

Indeed, a San Diego man has just been charged with operating a Web site that allows users to post sexual images of others so that he then allegedly could extort large sums of money from the victims whose images had been posted.

What Is 'Revenge Porn'?

What exactly is revenge porn? As discussed in some length in my blog October 1, revenge porn sites display nude and sexual photos and videos posted by former lovers, boyfriends, and husbands. Not only are the photos and videos posted for public review, but they often are accompanied with identifying information and disparaging comments.

Women who thought that they previously were sharing a private filmed moment now are having that moment broadcast to the world in a negative light -- and with the world knowing precisely who that woman is in the photo or video.

Some women who have been mistreated in this way have changed their names or their appearances in an effort not to be associated with the content displayed on revenge porn sites.

As I reported in my blog on October 8, California recently enacted a new law that makes it a misdemeanor for individuals to take and then circulate without consent nude and sexual photos and videos of women online with the intent to harass or annoy. A conviction for a violation of this law is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for a first offense.

Website Creator Charged With Extortion

And now, according to The Associated Press, a San Diego man has been arrested on 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft, and extortion. He reportedly created the site ugotposted.com -- a site which allowed users to anonymously post in excess of 10,000 explicit photographs of others without their consent. The site reportedly required that the revenge porn victims be identified by name, age, and other identifying information.

Not surprisingly, one the San Diego man's charges is that he sought to obtain identifying information with the intent to annoy or harrass. He reportedly charged the revenge porn victims anywhere from $250 to $350 to remove their images. He allegedly did this via another Web site called changemyreputation.com. He reportedly received tens of thousands of dollars as a result of his revenge porn online practices.

This case certainly brings home the need for laws to address unscrupulous online conduct such as revenge porn. Indeed, this case may become the poster child for such legislation, and perhaps could create momentum for similar laws in other states.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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