At Last, This Revenge Porn Kingpin Has Been Stopped

Illustration for article titled At Last, This Revenge Porn Kingpin Has Been Stopped

Remember Craig Brittain? Hopefully not. The wannabe unibrow won attention a few years ago for running a truly evil revenge porn racket called Is Anybody Down. Now his revenge porn days are finally over.

The Federal Trade Commission just banned Brittain from sharing nude photos of people without their consent. As part of the settlement, Brittain will also have to destroy the 1,000-plus nude photos and personal details of strangers that he's collected through his sick-ass revenge porn business. The FTC did not impose a fine.

And while the demise of one revenge porn kingpin is great news, you have to wonder: Why isn't this sort of thing straight up illegal?

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Well, we're getting there. Several states have been passing their own laws to address America's revenge porn problem. California is leading the way and fairly recently sent someone to jail for revenge porn-related offenses. Meanwhile, the FBI has investigated revenge porn rings in the past—namely Is Anybody Up, the site that Brittain was mimicking. The FTC's latest move sets an important precedent that these types of businesses will not be tolerated.

Rightly so! Just look at the agency's description of Brittain's offenses:

Brittain acquired the images in a number of ways, such as by posing as a woman on the advertising site Craigslist, and offering nude photos purportedly of himself in exchange for photos provided by women. When women provided him with the photos, Brittain posted them on his site without their knowledge or permission.

In addition to collecting and posting the images himself, Brittain solicited viewers of his site to anonymously submit nude photos of people to his site, according to the complaint. He required submissions to include sensitive personal information about the people in the photos, including their full name, town and state, phone number and Facebook profile.

The complaint also alleged that Brittain offered a "bounty system" on his site, wherein users could offer a reward of at least $100 in exchange for other users finding pictures and information about a specific person.

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Brittain won't be doing that sort of thing any more. And nobody should. Because it's sick and it's wrong and it should be illegal everywhere. Banning someone from the revenge porn business is a step in the right direction—next we need to ban revenge porn altogether. [FTC]

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DISCUSSION

Look, revenge porn is terrible and sick, I'm not disagreeing with that.

However, saying that we need specific laws to make it illegal for someone to do whatever they want with a photo they were consenually given, whilst saying you're stupid to think Facebook shouldn't be allowed to do whatever they want with a photo you happened to post or share on their website, seems a bit absurd.

You send a nude, I'd like to think there's an unspoken agreement that they won't share it and certainly won't post it online, but if they do, they're an asshole. You post a photo on Facebook because that's what everyone does and you should be able to share your photos online, there's no unspoken agreement, but you'd like to think they won't take that photo and make money using that photo for advertising... but if they do, that doesn't make them an asshole, it makes them a good business.

"Don't send nudes." I'd like to think that's an easy enough task for most people to do.

"Don't use Facebook, Instagram, I'll assume Twitter, or just about any online communication tool." That's a bit tricker. Don't get me wrong, I have friends who aren't on social media... but guess what, I rarely talk to them, rarely see them, I wouldn't know how reach out to them if I wanted to (I ended up randomly calling publicly listed numbers under one friend's last names until I got his parent's house).