One Simple Law Could Put an End to Revenge Porn Once and for All

One Simple Law Could Put an End to Revenge Porn Once and for All
Source: AP
Source: AP

Operators of so-called "revenge porn" sites may have just met their worst enemy: the Federal Trade Commission.

In a case settled last week, the FTC announced it had found revenge porn kingpin Craig Brittain guilty of committing illegal business practices and ordered him to stay out of the revenge porn industry — forever. According to the FTC, Brittain used "deception to acquire and post intimate images of women, then referred them to another website he controlled, where they were told they could have the pictures removed if they paid hundreds of dollars."

As part of the settlement, the FTC has banned Brittain from sharing nude photos or videos of people without their consent, and ordered him to destroy each and every copy of the photos that were posted. Brittain's despicable Is Anybody Down? website will be taken off the Web forever, and Brittain is prohibited from starting a similar one in the future under threat of heavy fines.

Source: BlogSpot

The background: Brittain's site compiled nude photographs of women submitted by jilted ex-lovers, angry misogynists and other creeps from around the world. In addition to the pornography, each photo was posted alongside information "doxxing" the photo's subject, including her full name, location, phone number and links to social media profiles. Brittain also operated a cottage industry that charged victims between $200 and $500 to remove the photos. According to the Verge, Brittain also allowed users to offer bounties for nudes of specific people.

"One key factor in this case was the publication not only of victims' intimate images, but also extensive personal identifying and location information, which significantly increased the harm that victims could face," FTC investigator Mark Eichorn told the Associated Press.

The FTC's decision is important because revenge porn sites that post intimate photos of people without their consent still operate with impunity across the country. California recently made the practice illegal and has already convicted two separate revenge porn operators, and the FBI has launched investigations of some major revenge porn hubs. Unfortunately, the disgusting practice remains legal in many states.

The Atlantic wrote that the FTC decision is a major indicator that federal and state law enforcement agencies are now beginning to treat revenge porn sites operated for a profit as illegal business enterprises. Regulators used the Brittain case to "send the message that businesses cannot encourage parties to breach promises of confidentiality without bearing responsibility for the resulting damage."

The jig is up: Basically, the feds have decided that revenge porn sites like Is Anybody Down? are illegal operations — and taking down Brittain is likely the FTC's opening salvo. While the settlement didn't find Brittain criminally liable, it does indicate that the agency is prepared to attack other revenge porn businesses on a similar basis.

This behavior is not only illegal but reprehensible," Jessica Rich, the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection director, said in a statement. "I am pleased that as a result of this settlement, the illegally collected images and information will be deleted, and this individual can never return to the so-called 'revenge porn' business." 

Here's to many more such victories.