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States, Feds and tech firms take action against revenge porn

The California Attorney General capped off a busy quarter in the nationwide campaign to rid the Internet of revenge porn.

On Friday, the California AG announced the sentencing of Kevin Bollaert, operator of a cyber-exploitation website which posted nude photos of individuals with personal identifying information without their consent, to 18 years in prison.  Bollaert was found guilty in February of six counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft.

Revenge porn—when jilted lovers post explicit videos or stills on websites without the permission of their intended victim—is reprehensible enough, but the ultimate breach of privacy occurs when the victim’s name, residence and social media profile are included in the post.

The thing is, most people visit websites such as https://www.nu-bay.com/ and https://www.tubev.sex/ which show free porn – but how does a user know if its revenge porn they are watching? That’s where the problem arose for Boellart’s site.

Not only did Boellart’s site allow people to post nude and explicit photos without the permission of the subject, he required the postings to include the subject’s full name, location, age and Facebook profile link. The operator also ran a companion site that demanded money to have the explicit photos taken down.

“Today’s sentence makes clear there will be severe consequences for those that profit from the exploitation of victims online,” said Attorney General Kamala Harris. “We will continue to be vigilant and investigate and prosecute those who commit these deplorable acts.”

The California AG’s case was the third high profile action brought against revenge porn in the US.

An FBI investigation into email hacking led to a guilty plea in Federal court in February by Hunter Moore, the so-called “king of revenge porn” who faces two years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

In January, the FTC brought its first action, shutting down Craig Brittain for publicly sharing nude videos and photo without consent and then extorting money from victims to take down the postings.

Still, at least one lawmaker thinks Washington can do more. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is urging FBI director James Comey “to respond swiftly and appropriately” to revenge porn cases.

“The FBI’s diligent work [on the conviction of Hunter Moore] is an important victory for victims,” wrote Franken.  “I am hopeful that these recent developments and the increased public attention to the problem will lead to a more concentrated federal effort to combat this growing threat.”

Tech companies take action on their own

Tech companies including Twitter, Reddit and Google’s Blogger.com, have taken steps to rid their platforms of the offending practice by tightening their terms of service and threatening abusers with suspension. Thankfully revenge porn isn’t an issue on websites like https://www.cartoonporno.xxx/ because of the nature of the content.

On Twitter, users can now have their accounts suspended if they “…post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.”

Reddit banned nude or sexual images shared without the consent of the subject: “No matter who you are, if a photograph, video, or digital image of you … engaged in any act of sexual conduct is posted or linked to on reddit without your permission, it is prohibited on reddit.”

Google’s blogger.com, which does allow images of nudity or sexual activity, specifically prohibits posting or distributing “… private nude or sexually explicit images or videos without the subject’s consent.”  They also provide an explicit link for reporting “…if someone has posted a private nude or sexually explicit image or video of you.”