Revenge Porn 'King' Hunter Moore Indicted & Arrested; May Actually Be A Legitimate Use Of CFAA

from the well-wouldn't-that-be-something dept

We’ve written about the issue of revenge porn sites and the so-called “king” of revenge porn, Hunter Moore, quite a few times. The issue is a tricky one because the whole concept of revenge porn — people posting nude photos of others, complete with contact info, and frequently offering to take down the photos for money — is unquestionably horrific. But… horrific issues can make for bad and overly broad laws. In fact, we’ve been quite concerned with attempts by some to craft laws against revenge porn that would upend basic established law concerning free speech and important internet safe harbors for service providers. Similarly, when revenge porn operators, like Kevin Bollaert, have been arrested, the charges against them have been problematic. Bad cases make for bad law, and since these sites are so morally repugnant, it’s easy to understand why some would stretch the law to try to go after those responsible. But the end consequences of stretching the law could be disastrous for many.

So, with the news that Hunter Moore was indicted with a co-conspirator under the CFAA today, we feared the worst. After all, the CFAA is already a terribly drafted law, regularly twisted by the DOJ to go after people for ordinary computing activities. However, in looking over the details of the indictment, we can at least breathe an initial sigh of relief (well, and disgust at the two individuals), as it details what appears to be Moore’s “co-conspirator” Charles Evens (also known as Gary) hacking into emails accounts to get access to nude photos, and then giving them to Moore. Moore gives Evens a bunch of money for this, at times calling him an employee, and urging him to break into more email accounts and to obtain more nude photos.

If proven true (and, admittedly, we’re only seeing the DOJ’s account here), this is the kind of thing that the CFAA was supposed to be used for. Any case involving the CFAA is always worrisome, given how widely the DOJ has abused it. And cases involving not just any “revenge porn” site, but the most famous one, IsAnyoneUp, and its founder Hunter Moore, are bound to be a risky proposition, since so much will focus on the emotional response to what an out-and-out jackass Moore is. But at first glance, this lawsuit looks like a much more legitimate application of the law. At the very least, hopefully, this suggests that existing laws can often be used legitimately against bad actors, without having to upend the basic legal framework of the internet.

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Comments on “Revenge Porn 'King' Hunter Moore Indicted & Arrested; May Actually Be A Legitimate Use Of CFAA”

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13 Comments
out_of_the_blue says:

Why exactly do you worry about sites that are "morally repugnant"?

Let those definitely on or past the margins worry about themselves. No one else should waste time or resources defending them. The basics of that site are NOT defensible under common law or common sense. No one is likely to get swept up in “revenge porn site takedown” grandstanding by rabid prosecutors. This will almost certainly never affect you adversely — though if allowed to continue and spread, subtracts from the little civilization that we have left.

Your headline generously admits the possibility of this being “legitimate”, but you hedge and qualify throughout. However, in distinct sign of geezering-up, you sustain your thesis to the end.

EXCEPT for “upend the basic legal framework of the internet” . — Now, I see you as NOT wanting to have existing laws used for obvious purposes, you want teh internets to be wild west, and I definitely don’t see any upending, let alone know what you mean by “legal framework”, because in practice that seems to be just lawyers running wild writing “Terms Of Service” that give them all power and users no rights at all. There isn’t any NEW laws required, NOR are any NEW rights given to web-site operators.


Weenies are always excited by “new” without understanding the how and why of the old, the practical limits and flaws, nor why business must be regulated. They just see “new” and believe it must necessarily be better.

09:13:10[k-170-1]

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Why exactly do you worry about sites that are "morally repugnant"?

Moron. Had you read the article properly, he clearly states why he’s concerned. Legitimate applications of the law are find, especially against these kinds of scumbags.

It’s when the DoJ tries to expand the law past what it was meant to cover that things go bad, & it’s usually against these kinds of scumbags, which work on the extreme boundary between legal & illegal, making charges stick a coin flip.

If the law is misused once, even against someone whose activity should be covered by law, but had found a loophole, & expanded outside it’s proper use, that misused expansion will be applied to other, less illegal (if not completely legal) cases, which warps the law & makes it over-broad & useless.

We have rights granted to us by the Constitution for a reason. Those rights cannot be taken away lightly (despite what the Government may think or wish). Misusing a law, even for a good reason, does just that, it erodes our rights in the long run.

As has been said many times, we don’t defend the right for someone to say good stuff freely, we have to defend the rights of morons to spout their hate & incompetence, so that Free Speech is properly granted to all.

Since you’ll misconstrue that last sentence, yes, this scumbag should go to jail for breaking the law, but the law he’s put in jail for should be the correct one, rather than an overly-expanded application of a different one, because he found a loophole around what citizens want him charged w/.

mr. sim (profile) says:

i wonder if this criminal indictment came about due to his refusal to act like a sane person in his lawsuits.

truth is other than posting contact info the truth is i see nothing wrong with his site. if you are foolish enough to give nudes to someone you should make sure they are mature enough to pull something like this if the relationship goes wrong.

the old internet adage applies here:
knowledge (or nude photos) is power, beware who you give that power to.

kyle clements (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“i see nothing wrong with his site. if you are foolish enough to give nudes to someone you should make sure they are mature enough to pull something like this if the relationship goes wrong.”

Well, without a signed model release, publication of images where the model is the clear focus of the image, and not an incidental background figure is exactly the kind of thing that can get you into some legal trouble. That’s why photographer’s assistants and Production Assistants are so insistent that everyone appearing on-camera signs the model release.

Freedom of Speech says:

California and revenge porn

Has Techdirt covered California’s new revenge porn law? Although well meaning, I think it’s the wrong approach.

Arresting these two for hacking into people’s email accounts is likely the best approach in this case. Whether the content being downloaded is porn or just pictures of kittens is irrelevant, as the offense is breaking into a person’s email account to access and/or download its contents.

Another possible approach to revenge porn is to use existing extortion statutes in cases involving “pay to delete” schemes.

Posting pornographic images of adults without permission, however, should never be a crime. A civil issue, perhaps, but never a crime.

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