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Push for the further criminalization of ‘revenge porn’

Staff Columnist

Published: Sunday, February 23, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2014 20:02

Hunter Moore, former owner of the discontinued website isanyoneup.com, is who people would refer to as a real champion — having accrued nicknames such as “the most hated man on the internet” in Rolling Stone, “the web’s vilest entrepreneur” and, most notably, “the king of revenge porn.” A self-proclaimed “professional life-ruiner,” Moore operated a site which allowed resentful exes to post nude or sexually provocative pictures of their former partners with screenshots from Facebook and other social media platforms, including the subject’s name and personal information — all without permission. In its heyday, the website made roughly $13,000 and received 30 million page views per month, according to “The Awl.” As of April 2012, it was ironically sold to an anti-bullying website, bullyville.com, and Moore wrote a letter announcing that he was “a changed man” to owner James McGibney.

But that didn’t deter the ex-proprietor from continuing his defamatory odyssey.

“I literally had a half pound of cocaine on a f*cking table with like 16 of my friends and we were busting up laughing taking turns writing this stupid letter [to McGibney],” Moore said to Betabeat later.

He subsequently started a website called HunterMoore.tv in December 2012, which is essentially an isanyoneup on steroids. This time, posts include nude photos and the addresses of the people in the pictures and a map of where to find them. Since the website began, the page has been repeatedly hacked by the hacktivist group Anonymous, and no one can access any revenge porn vitals because they are not there anymore. In addition to the onset of hacktivist tampering, Moore is currently being investigated by the FBI.

There is a particular legal ambiguity to revenge porn at the moment. It is not a federal offense, and it is not what Moore is being indicted for. Revenge porn finds its niche in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a bill which exempts the owners of a website from criminal content in user-submitted posts. However, in this case, a good portion of the photos weren’t submitted by exes or anyone at all.

Now, deservedly enough, Moore and his surreptitious partner — hacker Charles “Gary Jones” Evens — are facing trial in Los Angeles in early March on 15 criminal counts: seven for aggravated identify theft, seven for unauthorized access to a protected computer for the seizure of information and one for conspiracy.

Are the stars of these intimate photos at fault? Yes and no. Once you send a picture to somebody — a lover, a friend or a website —you relinquish total control over it, subjecting yourself to any of the new owner’s intentions. You simply can’t trust people, so don’t. What if your boyfriend has some friends he’s just itching to show you off to? What if you lose that lover or friend and things don’t go amicably? We all have the capacity to be spiteful, vindictive human beings in the hope of feeling better, striving for what we deem a proper interpersonal leveling. Cynical as it is, other people can and will destroy you for their own fulfillment. What exonerates Moore’s and Evens’ victims, though, is that people weren’t even sharing these photos in the first place. The pair stand in front of a judge because they stole personal, unseen media. The indictment by the FBI says that Moore reportedly paid Evens $200-$900 dollars a week to hack and scavenge for nudes wherever he could find them. While the 15 counts could send them to jail for at least a decade, I think it needs to go further.

Revenge porn, in my opinion, should be illegal. Fortunately, it’s gradually becoming such. Israel has ruled it a cybersex crime with punishments of up to five years of incarceration. New Jersey, Wisconsin, New York, Virginia and Maryland have also created similar legal measures. California has enacted a law which has drawn mixed criticism because it doesn’t excuse self-taken shots, which comprise the majority of revenge porn. However, these laws need to exist at a federal level. People lose careers and privacy. Too many people suffer humiliation at the hands of the Hunter Moore and his diasporas: the spiteful, malicious and — above all — insecure.  

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