Kevin Bollaert, Operator of Revenge Porn Site YouGotPosted Arrested, Charged With Extortion

The California Attorney General’s office today announced that Kevin Bollaert, one of the operators of now-defunct revenge porn site YouGotPosted, was arrested and charged in a San Diego state court with thirty-one felony counts of identity theft and extortion.  The complaint is here, but the arrest warrant contains much greater detail linking Bollaert to the site and its extortionate companion, “ChangeMyReputation.com”.  I wrote in some detail about the ties between Bollaert, YouGotPosted, and the “independent takedown” website “ChangeMyReputation” last December.

These are first criminal charges filed against the operator of a revenge porn site in the United States.  On first blush, although criminal law is by no means my forte, the complaint against Bollaert will be difficult to sustain: the Communications Decency Act bars certain state-level criminal charges against the operators of a website, assuming the identity theft charges treat Bollaert as the speaker (as opposed to the persons who provided the nude photos to him).  Whether the extortion charges are barred by the CDA is a more complicated question.

Notably, the complaint repeatedly references a co-conspirator, and the arrest warrant notes that the site’s other proprietor, Eric Chanson, asked that Bollaert not associate Chanson’s name with the site in July of 2013.  In August, Chanson told a Federal court that he had sold his share in the YouGotPosted enterprise to Bollaert in March. I am unaware of any information publicly available in July 2013 that would tie Chanson to the site, so it’s unclear why he would send such an email unless he were still somehow involved.

This is only the summit of Bollaert’s legal woes.  In September, Bollaert and his company, Blue Mist Media, were hit with a $300,000 default judgment by a Federal court in Michigan.

More on this story as it develops and I have time to analyze the complaint against Bollaert.

 

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  • Basil Forthrighly

    The Ars Technica article makes him sound young, stupid, and contrite-now-that-I’m-busted. I suspect California is ready to hoist him up the flagpole, as an example.

    I think treating revenge porn as extortion is the way to go, even if the laws need fixing to get there. The “annoy/harass” laws don’t come with a big enough hammer, typically, and it’s the monetization of misery that makes the practice so odious, not just the posting or solicitation thereof.

    As an aside, if the CDA immunized the extortion it needs to be fixed ASAP; while not a lawyer, I’m not seeing huge differences between revenge porn sites and say, find_a_killer.com. Sure, the underlying crimes are different, but both are sites deliberately designed to facilitate felonies. Perhaps we need to develop criminal facilitation law, akin to the way conspiracy law, and the law of accomplices and accessories has developed.

  • Pingback: The Case Against RevengePorn Bad Guy Kevin Bollaert

  • ndmike12

    I don’t see why the CDA would be an obstacle to an extortion charge, since that charge arises not from the speech of a third party, but from conduct that the site operator allegedly personally engaged in. There may be other obstacles to getting a conviction for extortion, but the CDA isn’t one of them unless I’m missing something.

  • http://Butlertrash.wordpress.com/ Butler trash

    What a complete Idiot. yes I run a gossip website. No i do not charge anyone to take anything down. This was just very stupid on this persons behalf.

  • Pingback: Casey E. Meyering of Tulsa, OK Arrested in Connection With Revenge Porn Site ‘WinByState’ | Adam Steinbaugh's

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