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No, I don’t run a revenge porn site

The operator of a revenge porn site website I’ve previously written about shut down his site, declared it to be under new ownership, and re-launched the website with a new name: mine.  The site is named and designed to give the impression that I operate the site.  I don’t.

It’s a clever, albeit unsettling, act of revenge by a revenge porn site owner.  It’s certainly more galling than the (usually) feeble threats of physical or legal harm, more annoying than the guy who sent me 250,000 emails, and more facepalm-inducing than the plethora of ridiculous accusations and ‘profiles’ that have popped up, among other desperate reactions.  Ultimately, however, it will prove to be ineffective: the site will continue to be difficult to find, victims who have contacted me have quickly seen through the true owner’s motivations, and I’m not in the slightest deterred from writing about this issue.

The individual I’ve previously identified as being involved in — if not himself running — the site has previously denied his involvement.  You can weigh for yourself whether his initial denial was credible and whether a “new” owner would be motivated to launch a site in my name.

I’m not naming the site’s address, and you shouldn’t try to find it.  If the involuntary aspect of it were not enough to dissuade patronization of the site, then – as I’ve previously written — the fact that a number of victims had written to the site’s owner complaining that they were underage in the photos should.  If not, please have your moral compass calibrated.

If you are a victim of the site, please get in touch with me and I’m more than happy to help you seek pro bono legal counsel or put you in touch with others who can help.

Ares Rights Adopts Matroyshka Doll Approach To Censorious DMCA Takedown Notices

I wrote about Ares Rights last week, criticizing (again) their use of frivolous DMCA takedown notices to attempt to remove content criticizing their firm or government officials in Ecuador and Argentina.

Ares Rights, answering my prayers, has now sent a frivolous DMCA takedown notice demanding the removal of my entire post, citing my alleged violation of Spanish privacy law for posting their address (which I didn’t)..  That’s right: Ares Rights is using an abusive DMCA notice to attempt to take down my post criticizing their use of DMCA notices to take down criticism of their censorious DMCA notices.  When you recover from reading that sentence, the DMCA notice (and my response) is below.

Update (9/3/2014): Ares actually sent three takedown notices at the same time, but my tech guy was laughing so hard at the first that he missed the other two, which are even more funny. As far as I can tell, the other two are identical, and based on the same, purposefully flawed logic (and content) of the takedown notice sent to Ecuadorian outlet PlanV.  The second and third DMCA — that is, Digital Millennium Copyright Act – notices claim that my use of this image, which had been created and posted by PlanV, constitutes trademark infringement:

censura-internet-interior_0

To make transparent their purposes, Ares Rights’ Luis Martinez says in these notices (“client” referring to me):

Your client acts as bad faith, since my logo is recognizable brand. Now,
your client makes a word game.

Your client acts in bad faith.

My tech guy had, thankfully, not yet sent my counter-notice.  So I’ve updated it with some more word games.

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Ares Rights Wants Ecuador Journalists To Stop Talking About Ares Rights’ Censorious Abuse of Copyright

The Ares Rights saga is… bizarre. So, they’ve summoned Barbra Streisand to sing their song.  After substantial attention to the firm’s abuse of copyright law to censor political dissidents (and, er, international oil conglomerates), Ares Rights has deployed a DMCA (copyright) takedown notice against an Ecuadorian news outlet targeting their coverage of Ares Rights’ censorious abuse of copyright.

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Plaintiff Seeks $123 Million In Revenge Porn Case Against Facebook, Ex

A Texas woman has sued social media site Facebook and an ex “friend”, Adeel Shah Khan, seeking $123 million in damages — ten cents for each of Facebook’s 1.23 billion subscribers.

The complaint, filed in Harris County, alleges that Adeel created a fake Facebook profile in the woman’s name, populating it with “doctored and photo shopped photographs” falsely depicting the woman naked.  Adeel is alleged to have then added the woman’s friends and family as ‘friends’ on the profile.

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Balance and Boundaries

The reasons I write about ‘revenge’ or ‘involuntary’ porn sites and the legal issues surrounding them are two-fold.  First, I write to give some, albeit limited, insight into the legal issues, and to document the ongoing legal cases as they develop. Second, I write to criticize those who develop or support such websites, so that public pressure — more speech — might encourage operators into shutting down their sites and deter others from starting new ones.

I wrote about one such site, which wound up being sued in a variety of federal courts and one of its operators indicted on extortion and identity theft charges.  In the course of the lawsuits, the parents of one of the two primary developers/operators of the site were named as defendants.  Naturally, I reported on the lawsuits and the legal predicaments faced by the developer’s parents.

The parents involved have now settled those lawsuits.  In doing so, they asked two federal courts to issue a dismissal which, among other things, authorizes the parents to ask various websites — including mine — to remove public court records and references to their names.

could be an asshole, stand on a free-speech-is-absolute principle, and point out that the courts’ orders are not binding on me because I was not a party to the proceedings and the orders don’t require me to do anything at all.

That wouldn’t serve the purpose of my writing.  Little deterrence would be accomplished and the site has long since shuttered.  But, I also have a responsibility to report on what has transpired, and cannot in good conscience simply erase public records from existence.  So, I decided that my response would be to remove the first names of the parents from my posts, which would allow the facts to remain while minimizing the likelihood that Google would return one of my posts as the top result for the parents’ names.

When the parents contacted me, they were polite and did not attempt to make the court orders out to be more than what they were — that is, they made no demands and did not suggest I was required to do anything.  They were intimidated by a confusing legal system and their livelihood was threatened by the online reputation bestowed upon them by their son’s careless behavior.  Someone dedicated to learning about the litigation could still discover their names, but a basic online search will be unlikely to immediately turn up anything I’ve posted.

That, to me, strikes an appropriate balance between criticizing and documenting the acts of those who deliberately seek to harm others for profit.  Reviewing the litigation history and the evidence submitted to the courts, I do not believe the parents deliberately furthered their son’s site, but were likely dumbfounded and understandably confused about what to do.

So, for the sake of transparency, their names have been removed from my posts, and I’ve privatized one of the pleadings which isn’t necessary to document the litigation history.  Their son’s name should be remembered, not theirs.

So You’re Worried That You’re On A Revenge Porn Site

With the increase in media attention to the involuntary or “revenge” porn phenomena, I’ve received a number of emails and phone calls from people who are worried that their photos might be on a revenge porn site or floating around on this great big internet of ours.  (This is a different issue than someone who knows that they’re posted on a site.)

If you fall into the category of uncertainty, I probably can’t help you.  I can help track the people who own a site or, sometimes, the people who posted photos to a site, but if there’s no starting point — a website address or an image — you’re probably in a better position than I am to find out whether your images are floating around somewhere.

But I thought I’d share the advice I’ve given to people who are worried about this possibility

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Federal Court: Lawsuit Against Revenge Porn Site Owner Eric Chanson (And His Parents) May Go Forward

Just in time for Mother’s Day, a Federal court in San Diego ruled that a lawsuit against Eric Chanson, the one-time operator of revenge porn site “YouGotPosted” (aka UGotPosted), and his parents, may move forward.

The site, which allegedly posted the nude photos of 10,000 people, was shut down shortly after its main operator, Kevin Bollaert, was interviewed by California authorities.  Bollaert was subsequently indicted on thirty-one felony counts of extortion and identity theft. 1

The court’s order denying the Chansons’ motions to dismiss (and denying a motion for sanctions against the plaintiff’s lawyers, Marc Randazza and friends) is below. 2

The San Diego case involves a plaintiff who was fourteen years old in the photographs and is one of four lawsuits pending against the site’s alleged former operators.  In each, the Chansons have sought unsuccessfully to have the cases dismissed. 3

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Notes:

  1. While it is unclear what, if any, role Eric Chanson played in the extortionate operation of YouGotPosted, the complaint against Bollaert notes that the ‘takedown’ site, ChangeMyReputation.com, was opened “with the assistance of known and unknown conspirators”. Eric Chanson should be worried: email records indicate that the PayPal account linked to the ‘ChangeMyReputation.com’ email address was connected to his bank account. None of the Chansons has been indicted.
  2. Because the plaintiff is or was a minor, I am redacting her name.
  3. Bollaert has, until recently, largely ignored the cases, leading to a $300,000 default judgment against him and the fictitious “Blue Mist Media, Inc.,” which purported to run YouGotPosted.  Bollaert is currently in default in the San Diego case.

Information About MyEx.com?

If you have information about MyEx.com that you’d like to share, please contact me with a working email address or phone number:

adam@adamsteinbaugh.com
(562) 686-6990

Who Runs Revenge Porn Site Whozacunt.com?

(This post is part of a series of investigative pieces attempting to identify the owners of “revenge porn” websites.)

WhozaCunt.com: The Revenge Porn Site Down Under

WhozaCunt.com is a revenge porn site “dedicated to helping you get even with bitches and assholes and give them what’s coming to them! [...] Make them famous – they deserve it!”  Having posted the nude photos of men and women against their will, the site subjects its victims to a bizarre ‘takedown’ ritual.  The site’s takedown policy requires victims themselves (and not a lawyer or family member) to provide a copy of their photo ID, another photo of the victim to prove they’re making the request, “proof” of the date the images were taken, and a “counter declaration,” without elaborating what the victim is supposed to declare.

When victims complained, the site would post their full emails, along with their photo IDs, and state opaquely that they had failed to comply with the takedown process.

Some victims of the site assert, credibly, that they were under the age of 18 in the photos featured on Whozacunt.com.  For example, one victim circled some, but not all, of the nude photos in her profile, to indicate which ones were taken while she was underage.  Whozacunt refused to remove the profile or any of the photos and instead re-posted the circled photos.

When challenged, the site takes an aggressive stance to increase the humiliation of its victims.  One woman and her parents complained to the Illinois Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, alleging that Whozacunt.com was refusing to remove nude photos of somebody else (and posted under the victim’s name).  The day after Whozacunt.com received a letter from the Consumer Protection Division, a new site arose using a domain consisting of the young woman’s full name, along with her nude photos.

Who could be this cruel?  A guy who cares more about cruelty to pigeons than cruelty to people.

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A Vigilante Statement of Intent

Over the past year or so, I’ve been writing a series of investigative pieces documenting who I believed was operating so-called “revenge porn” sites.  It’s probably time that I explain why.((I mean, aside from the fact that it’s funny to reveal that a guy who was a professional pigeon racer now runs a revenge porn site.  Seriously, professional pigeon racer.  That post goes up tomorrow.))

With few exceptions, the people operating these websites go to differing lengths to obscure who is running the site.  There’s a reason for that.  Their friends, family, significant others, and professional associates probably wouldn’t be as supportive if they knew about their hobby of humiliation for profit.  So, too, would victims, lawyers, occasionally law enforcement, and the John Q. Public like to know who runs these sites, and why they run them: is it because they’re embarrassed, because they fear lawsuits, or because they’re engaging in outright extortion?

And I would like to know, too.  While there’s a debate to be had about the First Amendment implications of revenge porn, one thing is certain: more speech criticizing these sites, their practices, and their owners is protected.  Exposing and criticizing owners pressures them to end their practice, deters others from starting sites, and guides law enforcement, lawyers, and victims in locating the owners.

Thus far, I’ve written about IsAnybodyDown’s Craig BrittainTexxxan’s Hunter TaylorYouGotPosted’s Kevin Bollaert, and WinByState’s Casey Meyering.  One of these sites shut down voluntarily, two others after being sued, and two of these owners are facing extortion charges. While I would like to claim credit for taking these sites down,((There is always someone with a skill and too much time on their hands. I happen to be one of those people.)) much heavier lifting has been done by the victims who raised awareness and pressure on law enforcement to act, the law enforcement officers who did act, and the lawyers who navigated new legal territory.  Perhaps I’ve had no impact at all.

Nonetheless, I believe that public pressure — more speech — works.  One site, AnonIB.com, shuttered last week after its ownership was purportedly revealed and, in its stead, issued a statement:

Apology to the girls who were posted on site against their will and especially those that had to donate to have their pictures removed. Its a warning to those that abuse others online. There are forces that work to track and expose them, and those forces WILL win in the end. There are plenty of girls and boys, women and men, who willingly want to be naked on the internet so post their pictures instead.

By my count, three dedicated revenge porn sites remain.  I know who owns each of these sites and, often, the people who support them.  They should and — if their sites remain online — will be criticized.

Tomorrow, another name gets added to the list.