The Decision That Could Finally Kill the Revenge-Porn Business

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
February 3, 2015

Co-authored by Danielle Citron and Woodrow Hartzog.

Revenge-pornography websites are a reminder that preying on the vulnerable has long been big business. And while various laws protect people against scam artists, extortionists, manipulators, and other unscrupulous enterprises, the law has not been able to keep up with all malicious businesses.

Those who distribute revenge porn rake in considerable profits while largely escaping the long arm of the law. Until now.

Federal and state law enforcement is starting to treat companies that make money from the release of confidential communications as illegal enterprises. These actions send the message that businesses cannot encourage parties to breach promises of confidentiality without bearing responsibility for the resulting damage.

This is the FTC’s first case against a revenge-porn operator.

The Federal Trade Commission announced last week that it has reached a settlement with the Craig Brittain, founder of the infamous revenge-porn site Is Anybody Down. Charges against Brittain focused on his website’s solicitation of individuals’ nude photos and contact information and the disclosure of that information to the public. (After the FTC announcement last week, Brittain posted an apology on the site.) The FTC argued in its complaint that it was unfair for Brittain to exploit personal information shared in confidence for commercial gain. The FTC also accused Brittain of tricking women into sharing nude photos with him by impersonating a woman and vowing to keep the photos confidential. In the settlement agreement, Brittain promised to get out of the business of revenge porn. He pledged not to disclose anyone’s nude images online without first getting their express written consent.

Read the full piece at The Atlantic.