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California Man Arrested for Running 'Revenge Porn' Website 252

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the someone's-going-to-jail dept.
cold fjord writes "Yahoo reports, 'A California man was arrested on Tuesday on accusations he ran a 'revenge porn' website, one that featured nude pictures of women often posted by jilted or angry ex-lovers ... The San Diego arrest, the latest action by the state to crack down on such websites, comes after California Governor Jerry Brown signed a first-in-the-nation law in October specifically targeting revenge porn. The law defines revenge porn as the posting of private, explicit photos of other people on the Internet to humiliate them. But authorities did not charge 27-year-old Kevin Bollaert under that law, because it is geared to those who post the incriminating pictures and not those who run websites that feature them .... Bollaert's site, which is no longer operational, had featured over 10,000 sexually explicit photos, and he charged women up to $350 each to remove their photos, officials said. ... Bollaert was charged under a California identity theft law that prohibits using identifying information of a person without their permission, and under anti-extortion legislation, according to court documents. Unlike many other revenge porn websites, Bollaert's site had required users post the photo subject's full name, location, age and a link to the person's Facebook profile, the Attorney General's Office said in a statement.'"
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California Man Arrested for Running 'Revenge Porn' Website

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  • by Major Blud (789630) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:07PM (#45661251) Homepage

    Pics or it didn't happen.

    No, really, it didn't happen if there aren't any.

    *DUCKS*

  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:10PM (#45661285)

    He should turn over all of his submission records, in essence handing over the information on hundreds of men who could be charged for posting the photos. They would probably offer him quite the plea deal if he were to do this.

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:30PM (#45661499)

      If he's going to bargain, he should probably offer something the police doesn't already have.

      Plus, unless those people are mostly in California, it's far better to go with the big fish you already have than a widely spread trove of hard to reach minnows.

    • by DiEx-15 (959602) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:35PM (#45661553)
      No.

      One of the charges he is being slapped with is extortion. Because, according to the article, he was charging women $350 to remove the images. That is the very definition of extortion as the women had to pay to remove the images.

      It is a wonder he isn't being slapped with federal charges of extortion.

      The other charge is identity theft. According to the CA laws: He was posting information about these women without their explicit consent. That breaks the ID Theft law there.

      That is not to say he will not be forced to turn over the information of all the idiots who posted the nudes. They may still get that info with or without his help. However, he certainly won't get a plea deal out of it if he cooperates because he is being charged with more serious, unrelated issues that the CA Anti-Revenge Porn law doesn't cover.
      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Also, if this is the person I'm thinking about, and if my memory is correct, at least one of his victims claims that he harassed and threatened her and her family, and that one of his associates cracked into women's personal computers/accounts and stole many of the photos that were posted.

        So assuming this is the same person, it's a wonder he hasn't been charged with harassment, assault, and violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It is a wonder he isn't being slapped with federal charges of extortion.

        Not really. California has a long and inglorious history of trying to turn itself into its own country -- second only to Texas in it's zest for trying to co-opt, twist, and otherwise manipulate federal law. See also: "This product is known to cause cancer in the State of California." They also have the highly controversial three strikes law that results in infinite prison. As if you needed more proof California's justice system was completely off the rails than them creating laws inspired by sports games.

        Bu

        • by tipo159 (1151047) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @03:48PM (#45663063)

          Not really. California has a long and inglorious history of trying to turn itself into its own country -- second only to Texas in it's zest for trying to co-opt, twist, and otherwise manipulate federal law. See also: "This product is known to cause cancer in the State of California." They also have the highly controversial three strikes law that results in infinite prison. ...

          Note that both the "causes cancer" and "three strikes" were voter approved initiatives (Prop 65 (passed with 63%) and Prop 36 (passed with 61%) respectively), not something slipped through the legislature.

          The will of the people should prevail until you disagree, right?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            The will of the people should prevail until you disagree, right?

            You cannot expect sound judgement from a population that averages a 5th grade reading comprehension and nearly 7% believe that lizard people secretly control the government... or aren't sure. I'm all for democracy -- when the general population is educated. California is one of the most populated states in the country, and also one of the least-educated overall. The results are, well... exactly as described.

            The people are morons. Why do you think the electoral college was created to begin with? Direct demo

        • "... second only to Texas in it's zest for trying to co-opt, twist, and otherwise manipulate federal law. See also: 'This product is known to cause cancer in the State of California.'"

          Don't misunderstand me; I am no great fan of the State of California. But if any Federal agency deserves to get its ass kicked up to its vocal chords, it's the FDA. Although I admit that the list has now grown rather large.

          They also have the highly controversial three strikes law that results in infinite prison.

          On this one, though, I would go further: it's not "controversial" at all. It's just plain bad, and everybody but politicians seem to know it.

          "... a prison sentence in excess of what I would get if I poured gasoline on this man and set him on fire for posting a naked picture of me on his website, I do not feel is fair."

          Again, agreed. He should definitely be dealt with harshly for his "identity theft" (if that's what you can honestly call it... I'd call it privacy v

      • by 228e2 (934443)
        Exactly.

        Furthermore, how did he think this episode would end? I didnt RTFA (ofcourse, this is still Slashdot) but I wager he couldnt have made too much money extorting before the the Feds started tracking him. Stupid stupid stupid criminals.
    • by TheCarp (96830) <sjcNO@SPAMcarpanet.net> on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:53PM (#45661751) Homepage

      Assuming its illegal.

      There is a big difference between what they did and what he did. What they did is, generally, a huge breech of trust but.... that doesn't mean it is or even should be illegal. When it comes to personal relationships, sometimes the state really should say "My name is paul, this shit is between you all".

      In the end, whether a particular upload would be an infringement or not would depend on context. I know women who have posted nude pictures of themselves or let others post pictures of them online. So you can't really just blanket assume its a violation.

      How about situations where a man posts pictures online of his wife claiming they are swingers looking for more partners. We can't assume its with or without her knowledge out of hand, it could be either. she could easily turn around in a divorce and claim to have not known.

      This isn't even academic, I KNOW people who have had problems like this where a divorce got messy and one side tried to use events out of context. Seriously I had a friend tell me his wife was really kinky and wanted him to have her sign a "slave contract" (not unusual in certain circles)....then a year later is telling me how she gave the contract to her lawyer to use as proof that he was really controlling.

      If that was the worst of the things I have seen people in fights with their ex do, that would be one thing. One friend of mine had to go through all sorts of hell fighting his ex over custody; even having to deal with her making false abuse claims with DSS. (we are still waiting to see the hammer drop on her for that since DSS has closed the case saying there was no merit to the claims)

      Relationships are messy business. Right or wrong, its usually best to stay out of them whenever possible. Unless there is "welfare of a child" involved (which admittedly can be the messiest) its best to just stay out and tell people do deal.

      Yet it does seem like there should be some recourse here, maybe a civil offence for people to use after other means of dealing with it break down? I dunno, but it should be somewhat targeted to prevent abuse of the statute.

      • Assuming its illegal. There is a big difference between what they did and what he did. What they did is, generally, a huge breech of trust but.... that doesn't mean it is or even should be illegal. When it comes to personal relationships, sometimes the state really should say "My name is paul, this shit is between you all".

        It's illegal. The summary even suggests which law was recently signed by the governor to make it illegal.

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          What? Please, how would you even know. Don't tell me you actually read the summaries and articles on slashdot. I mean seriously; who does that? :p

    • by McGruber (1417641) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:32PM (#45662263)

      He should turn over all of his submission records, in essence handing over the information on hundreds of men who could be charged for posting the photos. They would probably offer him quite the plea deal if he were to do this.

      Read the Arrest Warrant: http://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press_releases/Arrest%20warrant_0.pdf [ca.gov]

      There are 31 Felony Counts listed in it. He's not going to get much of a plea deal; the police seized his computers, so they already have "all of his submission records."

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:11PM (#45661295)

    So he wasn't arrested for running the website at all. He was arrested for blackmail. That headline isn't just misleading, it's factually incorrect. He was arrested because of it, but not for it.

    • by bigwheel (2238516)

      You would think so.

      From TFA: " In all, Bollaert faces 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion"

    • by Valdrax (32670)

      He was arrested because of it, but not for it.

      The title is "California Man Arrested for Running 'Revenge Porn' Website." What is the meaningful semantic distinction that makes the use of "for it" improper here? He was arrested for activities core to the running of the site: privacy violations (the images hosted on the site) and blackmail (a major revenue source for the site). Just because he wasn't arrested for using the site doesn't mean that we wasn't arrested for running the site.

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

        by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:36PM (#45662309)
        Just hosting a revenge porn site is legal. California even said as much. His actions toward the people in the images is what's gotten him in trouble. He blackmailed them, and improperly posted personal information about them, in some cases leading to them being identified and harrassed by others who saw the images. If he'd done nothing but host a site that held revenge porn images, and encouraged others to upload them, he wouldn't have been arrested (At least not for any of the charges he was charged with). So running a "revenge porn" site was irrelevant to the issue here.
  • Quick... (Score:5, Funny)

    by JavaLord (680960) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:11PM (#45661299) Journal
    . Bollaert was charged under a California identity theft law that prohibits using identifying information of a person without their permission

    Quick, sue the NSA.
    • You know, back in the Bush administration, before Snowden released documents proving they were doing it, the ESA and ACLU did just that, and the Supreme court said "Fuck off, you can't prove anything, so we won't let you get evidence that would help."

      I'm pretty sure there's another lawsuit now, but it hasn't gotten that high.

    • by celle (906675)

      " Bollaert was charged under a California identity theft law that prohibits using identifying information of a person without their permission "

      In other words, he's been charged with doing what every person, business, and the government itself does in the US/world. This is part of the lawmakers passing meaningless and opportunistic laws just to do so. Either enforce it on everybody and face the consequences or repeal it. Anything else is just government abuse and prosecutorial miscondu

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        Interesting. So if I do a search on myself in google and find personal information does that mean I can sue?
    • Re:Quick... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:45PM (#45662413) Homepage Journal

      heard earlier today: "If knowledge is power, then privacy is freedom." Think about that in context of the NSA.

  • by Huntr (951770) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:12PM (#45661321)
    Charging ppl $350 a pop to remove their photos for which they did not give permission to post? Yeah, go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:14PM (#45661341)

      Charging ppl $350 a pop to remove their photos for which they did not give permission to post? Yeah, go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

      "Do not collect $350", surely?

    • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:20PM (#45661413)

      Which is slightly ironic, because there are folks who do exactly the same thing with photos from bookings when you are arrested. He may end up on the page of one of those blackmailers. Are the cops going after them as well?

      • by Gryle (933382)
        To my understanding, booking photos are technically public record except in cases where the records have been sealed by the courts. Private Citizen A posting a audio/visual recording of Private Citizen B without B's permission is a legally-distinct matter.
        • by TheCarp (96830) <sjcNO@SPAMcarpanet.net> on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:09PM (#45661975) Homepage

          Actually I question if either is really blackmail, but if one is, then both seem to be to me.

          Here is why: blackmail is generally about revealing information that is secret. As was pointed out in an objection to the concept by some libertarians: it is legal to gossip or to threaten to release secrets; it is only illegal to offer to not release them for some benefit.

          The thing is, this is not about release of public info, this is about continued availability. The info was already made public, this is "pay me and I will hide it"; which isn't really blackmail is it? However the point is: Its blackmail even if the threatened action is otherwise legal (though this likely varies from place to place, wikipedia has some good examples of how it differs).

          So.... it seems to me if "pay me and I hide this embarrassing info, which is already published now" is blackmail, then it is blackmail whether its nude photos or public court documents.

        • by swb (14022)

          Until very recently, though, booking photos were funcitonally private. It took digital photography combined with modern record keeping systems for them to be widely available, and even now you can't simply browse the police department's web site (at least here in Minneapolis) and grab the photos. You have to go down to the department to get a copy, and it wouldn't surprise me if the copy you get is a printout.

          So even though booking photos have a legal status as public informaiton, the idea of running a

        • by sjames (1099)

          Actually, once they cross the line by demanding payment to remove a photo, they are also committing extortion.

    • by edibobb (113989) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:37PM (#45661565) Homepage
      and...
      Charge people $5,000 a pop to avoid RIAA copyright lawsuits? Profit.
      Charge people $3,000 a pop to avoid vague patent lawsuits? Profit.
      This right and wrong stuff gets so confusing!
  • Extortion then? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:17PM (#45661367) Homepage

    Bollaert's site, which is no longer operational, had featured over 10,000 sexually explicit photos, and he charged women up to $350 each to remove their photos, officials said

    So basically he was running an extortion racket?

    At the end of the day, you're posting intimate pictures of someone without their permission and without a model release, so I don't have a lot of sympathy for this guy. If the rest of the porn industry needs to keep model releases and the like on file, why wouldn't he?

  • . . . .the older brothers and fathers of the young ladies "exposed" on the website would stop by and have a "chat" with the guy. The site would then go offline very soon thereafter. . . either because he was sufficiently scared, or he was laid up in the hospital, and couldn't pay the hosting bill. . .
    • by jythie (914043)
      Yeah... the reason behind that is back in those days such things were considered a crime against the fathers/brothers, not the young lady.
    • by taustin (171655)

      And then it would turn out the sister/daughter voluntarily posed for the pictures, was paid as a professional model, and signed a release. But claimed it was something else when her brother/father turned out to subscribe to the site and found the pics.

      Then, the young lady, and the brother/father would all go to prison, and everything they own auctioned off and the money given to their victim.

      There's a reason civilized people prefer a rule of law to blood feud justice.

    • Not really days of old... I imagine it's not the guy running the site but the ex boyfriends that are getting the riverside chats about carpet swatches.

  • I am making the assumption the photos were taken legality and not by trespassing or some illegal means. If this is the case why is this illegal?

    • by Shados (741919)

      Being allowed to take a picture and redistributing it is two totally different things....

      • by EvilSS (557649)

        Being allowed to take a picture and redistributing it is two totally different things....

        Actually, under US law they are not in most circumstances. If I take your photo, even in a private setting (assuming the circumstances under which I'm taking it are legal), I own the copyright to that photograph and you have very, very little control over how I choose to use it. I can sell it, post it online, put it in a coffee table book, or have it displayed in a public exhibit all without your consent. The only time I need your consent is if I use it in a way that would imply that you, as a person, are

        • by taustin (171655)

          You are off base. All states have varying flavors of privacy laws, and most have laws regarding the commercial exploitation of a person's image (and California certainly does). Things can be damned fuzzy, sometimes. An art gallery show doesn't require a model release, but if prints are being sold, it's best to have one, for instance.

          Privacy is less fuzzy, generally. If there's an expectation of privacy, and the photo itself, or the events depicted are not newsworthy, generally speaking, it's a privacy viola

          • by EvilSS (557649)

            You are off base. All states have varying flavors of privacy laws, and most have laws regarding the commercial exploitation of a person's image (and California certainly does). Things can be damned fuzzy, sometimes. An art gallery show doesn't require a model release, but if prints are being sold, it's best to have one, for instance.

            It is always good to have one but there is no legal requirement for one. Street photography is a good example of this. There is also the case in NYC recently of a photographer photographing the tenants across the street through their open windows, exibiting and selling prints. The residents had no real legal recourse. Laws like those in California only kick in when the image is used to promote or endorse another product. If the image, itself, is the product, that does not trigger the law.

            Privacy is less fuzzy, generally. If there's an expectation of privacy, and the photo itself, or the events depicted are not newsworthy, generally speaking, it's a privacy violation to publish the photos. That's a civil matter, but when you demand money to not commit a civil privacy violation, that's criminal extortion (as has been charged in this case).

            Also not true under most US law. Once you concent to being photographed, you give up most privacy related rights for that instance. This is the difference between a hidden camera pic (bathroom stalls, for example) and a photo you allow your SO to take. Newsworthy, again, is a matter of copyright, not privacy, law. If you look at the court cases around some of the sex tape releases (where the photographer was not in question and both parties had proportial access to legal representation) it's pretty clear.

            • by EvilSS (557649)
              This is also apparent in the way the California law was written:

              This bill would provide that any person who photographs or records by any means the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person, under circumstances where the parties agree or understand that the image shall remain private, and the person subsequently distributes the image taken, with the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and the depicted person suffers serious emotional distress, is guilty of disorderly conduct and subject to that same punishment.

              Note that is specifically calls out that the parties agree or understand that the image shall remain private. This is their attempt to create an implied agreement on the use of the image, one that does not exist under current law.

              I, again, want to be clear that I would love to see this guy hang, he deserves it. I just question whether or not he actually broke the law the way they are currently written, and to make people aware that their beli

    • by jandrese (485)
      I don't know where you live, but in my country extortion is a crime.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Because of the blackmail and extortion. He wasn't charged with "running a revenge porn site" or copyright infringement.
      • by PPH (736903)

        This is true.

        It will be interesting to see if the new revenge porn law stands up in court. This does not appear to be a charge under that law, but a violation of extortion laws. Or of California identity theft law, if TFS is to be believed.

      • by trout007 (975317)

        I don't see why blackmail should be illegal either. Extortion typically involves the threat of violence so I can see why that would be illegal.

        Let's say you have an embassaing picture of a politician or celebrity in which it would damage their reputation. What is the difference if I offer to sell it to TMZ or to the celebrity?

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @01:36PM (#45661563)

    It's Blackmail!

    Hello, good evening, and welcome to 'Blackmail'! And to start tonight's program, we go to Preston in Lancashire, and Mrs Betty Teal!
    Hello, Mrs Teal!
    Now this is for £15 and it's to stop us revealing the name of your lover in Bolton.
    So Mrs Teal...if you send us £15 by return post, please, and your husband Trevor, and your lovely children, Diane, Janice and Juliet need never know the name of your lover in Bolton.

  • Your ex is a bitch, but Karma is a bigger bitch. Multiply that by all the users on the web site. He's lucky the law got to him first.

  • by McGruber (1417641) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:13PM (#45662023)

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