Archive for IsAnybodyDown

The Tale of WePay and Revenge Porn Extortionists

Upon request, in light of WePay’s recent apparent termination of an adult actor’s efforts to fundraise for her medical bills (because porn!), here’s the story of WePay and revenge porn extortionists.

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Craig Brittain “Shuts Down” IsAnybodyDown, Renames it “ObamaNudes.com”

Yesterday, revenge porn’s Craig Brittain announced on Twitter that he was ending his site, IsAnybodyDown.com (synopsis here).  Many (myself included) interpreted that to mean that Brittain was shutting down his site.  And with tweets like these, wouldn’t you?:

Alas, it appears that Brittain was being disingenuous: he’s merely renamed the site to ObamaNudes.com — and wants more money.

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IsAnybodyDown: Craig Brittain’s 2005 Harassment Charge Unsurprisingly Predictive

Craig Brittain’s revenge porn site, IsAnybodyDown.com, might have been an unremarkable ripoff of Hunter Moore’s “Is Anyone Up?” site if not for “David Blade III, Esq.”  Blade was an invention of Craig Brittain, a fake attorney created to add an aura of legitimacy to Brittain’s extortionate scheme:  post nude photos along with full names, social media profiles, and phone numbers, then charge victims $250 to have them removed.

Nor was “David Blade” Brittain’s only only online impersonation.  I theorized that Brittain’s efforts went a step further: pretend to be a Craigslist user arranging a sexual encounter, then take the photos and post them to IsAnybodyDown.  That theory proved true when CBS Denver turned up emails bearing Brittain’s IP address, showing that he pretended to be a “Jess Davis” to solicit nude photos, using the photos of one of his victims.

Brittain maintains that “David Blade” is real (or, at least, was created by somebody else) and that all of the photos on IsAnybodyDown come from users of the site — not him.  According to Brittain, the allegations are a “fabrication” by attorney Marc Randazza (and other Brittain critics) to make money off of his site.  Or something.  Brittain says that “[t]here is no truth to it at all.  These women are told to lie by their attorneys.”

But allegations in a 2005 harassment charge and restraining order naming Brittain are unsurprisingly predictive of his future behavior: impersonating people on the internet in an effort to harm women online and offline.

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IsAnybodyDown.com: Craig Brittain Still Can’t Keep His “David Blade” Story Straight

The Colorado Springs Independent has a feature story out today about Craig Brittain and his controversial site.  If you haven’t been following along, here’s a synopsis of the IsAnybodyDown.com controversy.

The article is worth a read, both because it lays out some of the controversy and because it gives Craig Brittain ample room to shed light on his side of the story.  Presented with this generous opportunity, Craig dissembles.  Craig is already claiming to have been significantly misquoted.

Months after this controversy began, these are the two big questions Craig has failed or refused to directly answer, and some discrepancies raised by Craig:

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Are you posted on IsAnybodyDown.com or YouGotPosted.com?

Are your nude photos posted on IsAnybodyDown.com or YouGotPosted.com? If so, I’d like to talk with you. I’ve written critically about both sites here and I am interested in finding out additional information about the sites, including more about how they get their pictures, how they respond to takedown requests, and the experience you’ve had as a result of being posted.

Anonymity guaranteed. I won’t reveal any identifying information without your permission or a lawful order (e.g., a subpoena).

Please note that I am not a lawyer and can’t help get your pictures removed. Another site has posted some tips on how to get pictures removed, but I can’t vouch for whether following its advice would be successful or legally prudent. I highly recommend that you contact an attorney.

You can email me (adam.steinbaugh@gmail.com) or find additional contact information on my “About” page.

Anonymous Targets IsAnybodyDown.com, which Chance Trahan Claims He Doesn’t Run

A few brief updates about involuntary porn site IsAnybodyDown.com and its “Takedown Hammer” scheme.  If you’re just joining us, a synopsis of the IsAnybodyDown.com controversy is here.

[Update: Chance Trahan responds at length [PDF].  He denies running the site and says that talking about him is cybersquatting, among other things. More below.]

[Update 1/7/2013: Chance deleted the above post (though here’s a copy [PDF]) and replaced it with a new response.  It’s a copy/paste of this post edited to tell his side of the story.  Chance Trahan says that the “David Blade” / “Takedown Hammer” site is, alternatively, a “parody” or a “third party hiree.”  Chance says he only designed the site, its logos, and created its Facebook account — the idea and content are Craig’s.  Chance also maintains his claim that speaking negatively about or to him (without his permission) is “harassment” and “cybersquatting,” and that those criticizing him were hired to do so.  Chance also commented on this post, below]

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IsAnybodyDown Part ???: Applicability of Section 230 of the CDA

With news outlets starting to pick up the IsAnybodyDown story (an overview is here) — among them Ars Technica and the Daily Dot — one misconception should be headed off at the pass: the site’s creators are not likely to be shielded from liability by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

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A Synopsis of the Involuntary Porn Site IsAnybodyDown.com Controversy — the tl;dr

If you’re not yet familiar with IsAnybodyDown.com (NSFW), here’s a synopsis of the controversy surrounding it:

Involuntary porn: IsAnybodyDown.com is an “involuntary porn” or “revenge porn” site, posting nude photos, names, phone numbers, hometowns, and Facebook profiles of over 700 people.  The photos are posted without consent and are purportedly submitted by jealous ex-lovers, but may be culled by the site from deceived Craigslist users.  The site, hosted in Romania, claims immunity from U.S. copyright law and posted emails mocking those asking to have photos removed.  Its owners view the site as a “weapon.”

But IsAnybodyDown.com’s creators are AmericanThe site was started by Craig Brittain of Colorado Springs (now living in Phoenix) and Chance Trahan of Tempe, Arizona, though Chance denies that he “runs” the site, insisting that he is only a freelance artist.

Enter attorney David Blade: People understandably desperate to have photos removed turned to attorney “David Blade III”, who advertised on IsAnybodyDown and on his own site, TakedownLawyer.com, offering to negotiate with his old college friend Craig Brittain to have pictures removed for $250.  Blade boasts of removing photos of 90 people from the site.

Attorney David Blade turns out to be fake: “David Blade” does not exist.  “David Blade” is purportedly a public defender in New York, but no lawyer by that name is registered with the NY state bar.  The “Takedown Lawyer” website was registered and hosted by Craig Brittain, and emails from both “David Blade” and Craig Brittain likely originated from the same computer in Colorado Springs.  It appears that Craig Brittain was pretending to be attorney “David Blade”, receiving money to negotiate with himself to remove photos he doesn’t own.  Ken White, a former Federal prosecutor, believes this is wire fraud.  Craig later claimed that he doesn’t know who “David Blade” is and that a friend made him up.

Enter the real attorneys:  Noted First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza uncovered the scam and offered to represent victims of IsAnybodyDown.com for free.  Others stepped forward to assist.

Enter the media:  NPR’s On the Media interviewed both Marc Randazza and Craig Brittain, and the Colorado Springs Independent interviewed Craig Brittain, leading Craig and Chance to engage extensively in the comments of the post.  CBS Denver will air an interview with Craig and victims of the site on Saturday, Jan. 12th. Also: ArsTechnicathe Daily DotAbove the LawLawyeristJezebelTechdirt (twice), and the Italian version of the Huffington Post.

Craig and Chance try to censor their critics: Craig, a self-described “front-line first amendment warrior,” tried (and failed) to use copyright law to censor posts about him at Popehat. Craig attempted to delete criticism of him from Wikipedia and was banned after making legal threats. Chance posted legal threats claiming “slander” and “invasion of privacy” in comments on my blogPopehat, Wikipedia, Techdirt, Ethics Alarm,  and a satirical video.  Chance successfully had the satirical video removed, arguing that its use of his photo and name invades his privacy.  Chance threatened that this blogger would be “extradited” to Arizona to face a libel suit if he didn’t remove “every last word” about him.

Craig fires back: Craig responded with a “press release” and with Trolldown.com, blaming Obama for his problems and claiming that Randazza, Ken White, and myself were each paid $350,000 by “Big Porn” to take down his site.  Craig launched his own personal site to respond to criticism.

Chance lashes out: Chance ranted on Twitteon his personal site, and filed a complaint with the BBB, claiming anti-bullying site Bullyville.com is paying Randazza and others to criticize him.

Enter Anonymous: #Knightsec, the contingent of hacking group Anonymous that targeted Hunter Moore (progenitor of revenge porn) declared war on the site.

Bullyville Offers a Reward: Anti-bullying site Bullyville.com is offering a $500 reward for proof that IsAnybodyDown.com contains photos of people under the age of 18.

YouGotPosted replicates the scheme: Another involuntary porn site has created a similar dubious front to collect money from its victims: ChangeMyReputation.com.

So what’s next? Things have been moderately quiet for the past few days — publicly, anyway. Stay tuned.

IsAnybodyDown Part… Screw it: Craig Brittain and Chance Trahan Embrace Censorship

I didn’t want to write about this anymore for awhile, but oy vey, this is quite the flameout.

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IsAnybodyDown Part IV: More Evidence the People Pictured were Deceived — and Didn’t Consent

In earlier posts, I documented some evidence that the proprietors of involuntary-porn site IsAnybodyDown.com were culling their photos from unsuspecting Craigslist posters and discounted their nonsensical claims that everyone who appears on the site consented to be pictured there.  This post is largely a re-hash of that evidence — with some fun new discoveries.

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