Original Revenge Porn Creator, Hunter Moore, Takes Plea Deal With Justice Department

from the another-one-down dept

Three of the biggest "names" in the revenge porn business have all had the legal system come down on them, concluding in the past few weeks. At the end of January, Craig Brittain, of "Is Anybody Down," settled with the FTC. A week later, Kevin Bollaert, of "YouGotPosted," was found guilty of extortion by a jury. And now, just a couple of weeks after that, the guy often credited with creating the first revenge porn site, Hunter Moore, with "Is Anyone Up," has settled the Justice Department's case against him.

As with the Craig Brittain settlement, some may find the end result of this settlement less than satisfying -- but it appears that Moore will still likely end up in jail like Bollaert. Moore will agree to plead guilty to two counts (out of nine) in his indictment: one for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) -- for supposedly hacking into computers to get naked pictures to post to his site -- and a second one for identity fraud in impersonating another. He will also be limited in his use of computers and devices, and will have to share screen names and passwords to his probation officer. In exchange for this, the prosecutors will ask the judge for a "two-level reduction in the applicable Sentencing Guidelines offense level." The court does not need to go along with this request, but usually will. As the settlement notes, in pleading guilty to these two charges, Moore is facing a maximum sentence of seven years in jail and a potential fine of $500,000 -- though the final result will likely be lower. It appears that the minimum in the sentencing guidelines is two years, so it seems likely that he will spend a fair bit of time in jail.

It's interesting to see all three of these cases resolve (in some manner -- since Bollaert is apparently appealing his case), all within a three-week period. As Adam Steinbaugh notes, a fourth key player in early revenge porn, Casey Meyering, is about to go on trial for extortion as well (and the guy Moore supposedly paid to hack into computers for his site, is still facing a trial in a few months). There are, of course, other revenge porn sites out there, but these were the earliest -- and biggest. Steinbaugh further notes that:
In one month, approximately half of the operators of dedicated revenge porn sites have been sanctioned, convicted, or are likely to be convicted. Stunning.
He further notes that the surviving revenge porn sites (he's known for tracking these things -- and tracking down and exposing the operators) have basically all moved to Tor hidden sites and out of the US.

It does seem noteworthy, again, that all of these results came about without dismantling Section 230 of the CDA or requiring special new "anti-revenge porn" laws, like some are calling for. Yet, I imagine it won't stop the calls for such legislative action.

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  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 2:37pm

    on the other hand....

    I believe the government would argue that this case being handled WITHOUT the special laws just PROVES HOW BADLY WE NEED THEM!

    After all, he wasn't actually convicted of revenge porn, just piddling hacking & Id theft. If they'd had brand new, sparkly ANTI-PORN STATUTES then they could have locked this miscreant up for life....and let us pay for his upkeep the whole time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      madasahatter (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 5:24pm

      Re: on the other hand....

      The claim that a specific law was needed is often bogus. Generally there are already laws that can be applied with a little bit of work by the prosecutors. The Enron executives were convicted of various financial frauds with laws on the books at the time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 4:46pm

    No different to the mpaa/media representative extortion racket, yet i bet they'll be treated differently

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    LAB (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 8:01pm

    I wonder if protecting revenge porn sites was intent of the 230 protections. I would like to hear justifications as to why a site created solely to post intimate pictures of others (presumably, without the subject's consent) should be protected. These are not public figures and individuals have an inherent right to privacy. If someone took a photo of you in a compromising position, and you intended it for an individuals use and then it was posted on the internet, wouldn't you like some recourse? Shouldn't you have a say? I believe in freedom of speech but wonder the cost in this context. In addition, someone is profiting from an image the subject did not intend to sell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 1:04am

      Re:

      Often times you have to defend the scum, in order to protect the rights of the innocent.

      It may seem 'unfair' that sites like that can 'hide' behind 230(not that it did them much good here), but if sites were responsible, and could be held accountable for what their users posted, then user-created content sites would be all but impossible, as sites would have to check every single post before allowing it. Imagine if you will Youtube having to pre-screen the weeks or months worth of video they get on a daily basis before it was put up on the site.

      Also, imagine how much content would simply never make it, not because it was clearly illegal(not much is), but because it might be illegal, or get a site sued(which pretty much everything is).

      If sites were able to be held personally responsible for what their users posted, there is no way they'd be willing to take a chance, so only a handful of things would ever make it through the vetting process.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    LAB (profile), 21 Feb 2015 @ 9:02am

    "Often times you have to defend the scum, in order to protect the rights of the innocent."

    Yes, I agree. Perhaps what I am suggesting is if the SOLE purpose of a site is to post these types of images, can a site operator REALLY state they had no idea as to what type of content was posted? To feign ignorance is just dishonest, like running pawnshop and turning a blind eye to stolen property and then saying there was no way to check. I don't have the solution just voicing my thoughts. When commerce is involved, it is hard to justify an operator is not responsible in any form or fashion as to the content they are profiting from.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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