from the none-of-this-makes-sense dept
Earlier this week, Hunter Moore — the guy who basically invented the concept of revenge porn with his “Is Anyone Up” site — was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail along with a $2,000 fine… and he has to pay $145.70 in “restitution” to a single victim. Moore was arrested for violating the CFAA, and as we noted at the time, it may be one of the few legitimate uses of the CFAA. He didn’t just run a revenge porn site, he hired a guy, Charlie Evens, who got a similar sentence a week ago, to hack into the computers of unsuspecting women, and swipe naked photos of them to put on his site. The sickening bit: that “$145.70” in “restitution”? That’s how much Moore paid Evens (also, Evens is jointly liable for that money, meaning that Moore might not even pay it). It’s difficult to understand why the $145.70 makes any sense at all as the “harm” caused to the anonymous woman “L.B.” whose computer got hacked into.
As Sarah Jeong at Vice’s Motherboard notes, the reason that Moore’s sentence seems so light is because of the nature of the plea bargain he agreed to with the government:
The tiny amount of restitution has partly to do with Moore?s plea bargain. He pleaded guilty to counts 2 and 9 of the indictment (which had a total of fifteen counts)?one count under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Counts 2 and 9 relate only to one victim, L.B.
So because he’s only guilty on those two counts, there’s just that single victim. Even so, the tiny restitution seems a bit bizarre. It’s also hard to square this CFAA “punishment” with a case like Matthew Keys’, who was recently found guilty of sharing a password that resulted in a brief (40 minute) defacement of the LA Times website. Yet, in that case, it was argued that he caused almost a million dollars in damages, and will be sentenced next month (with the prosecution supposedly asking for something less than five years).
Meanwhile, it’s still bizarre to compare the result of this case, with other similar cases. Kevin Bollaert, who created the similar revenge porn site “YouGotPosted” was originally sentenced to 18 years in jail, along with paying $15,000 in restitution — though his sentence was later reduced to eight years in prison and another 10 years of mandatory supervision. That length of time seemed a bit extreme.
And then there’s Craig Brittain, whose IsAnybodyDown website copied Hunter Moore’s with a unique addition: creating a totally fake lawyer who you could pay to get your photos and information taken off the site (Bollaert copied this model from Brittain). Brittain just got off with a wrist slap, and has been busy trying to hide this fact with abusive DMCA notices, while at the same time hilariously trying to start an Uber competitor with his buddy and revenge porn collaborator, Chance Trahan, last seen pretending to be Daymond John. Trahan never got into any legal trouble for his role in the revenge porn business and, if you want to be amused, you should read his… er…. “interview” with Rolling Stone about it.
And then there’s Casey Meyering, who ran WinByState (don’t ask), which was another revenge porn site, that also copied Brittain’s extortionate “pay us to take down your info” model, and was recently sentenced to three years in jail. It’s good to see these guys getting punished, though the randomness in the punishment and sentencing seems problematic. Moore’s sentencing, in particular, seems bizarre, considering that it involved the CFAA, at a time when the CFAA is widely abused to create HUGE punishments for things that many people don’t think are all that bad. Moore, on the other hand, appeared to clearly violate both the spirit and letter of the CFAA for clearly bad purposes — and gets off with something of a wrist slap in comparison.