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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Filed Under: cfaa, charles evens, email, hunter moore, revenge porn


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  1. identicon
    Freedom of Speech, 23 Jan 2014 @ 1:39pm

    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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