Feds Target Revenge Porn Website

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A website is in legal trouble after publishing explicit images and other personal information of subjects without their consent.

The Federal Trade Commission wants to stop a revenge porn site from posting explicit pictures and personal information about victims—and charging victims to remove the information, according to an agency statement.

FTC and the state of Nevada filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court of Nevada against the operators of MyEx.com. The website allegedly solicited intimate photos and videos from visitors without consent of the subjects, and often often published other personal details such as victims’ names, birthdates, addresses, social media accounts and employers.

As of December, FTC said the website had more than 12,600 entries.

Visitors could rank and comment on posts, as well as tag them with predetermined derogatory labels like “bad in bed,” “slut” and “gold digger,” WFMJ reported. Some victims lost jobs and got harassing or threatening messages through email and social media, according to the FTC complaint.

The complaint alleges that the defendants knew the victims did not consent to MyEx.com posting their images or personal information and would charge them between $499 and $2,800 for removal.

“People who were featured on this site suffered real harm, including the loss of money they paid to remove intimate images and personal information, loss of jobs, and being subject to threats and harassment,” said acting FTC Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen in a statement.

The complaints names EMP Media, Inc., Aniello “Neil” Infante, Shad “John” Applegate, also known as Shad Cottelli, and one or more unknown parties doing business as Yeicox Ltd. FTC and Nevada approved a proposed settlement with Infante that includes a $205,000 judgment—much of which will be suspended due to his inability to pay more—to provide redress to victims who paid him takedown fees.

The FTC and Nevada say the defendants’ actions are violation of deceptive practices statutes, but some lawmakers are looking to create a federal law to prevent revenge porn.

Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in December introduced the ENOUGH Act to ensure the Justice Department has tools to pursue people who post “nonconsensual pornography” and create a federal criminal liability for those who share the pictures. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who introduced a version of the legislation last session, sponsored the companion bill.

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