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Tor Project Sued Over a Revenge Porn Business That Used Its Service 311

Posted by Soulskill
from the tor-is-a-series-of-eeeeevil-tubes dept.
redletterdave writes: The Tor Project has been sued in the state of Texas over a revenge porn website that used its free encrypted communications service. The plaintiff in the case — Shelby Conklin, a criminal justice major at the University of North Texas — alleges a revenge porn site called Pinkmeth "gained unauthorized access to nude photographs" she owned and posted them to the internet. She also said Tor, which The Economist once called "a dark corner of the web," was involved in an active "civil conspiracy" with Pinkmeth because the revenge porn website used the anonymous communications service to prevent others from tracking its location.
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Tor Project Sued Over a Revenge Porn Business That Used Its Service

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:04PM (#47417201)

    Texas has "the Internets" these days? Did they wire up the trailer parks?

  • IETF next (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:09PM (#47417237) Journal

    They set the standards for the TCP/IP protocol, the one used by the packets which conspired with the Tor network to move data around untraceably!

    • But only after the crypto library...
    • Re:IETF next (Score:5, Informative)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:22PM (#47418101)

      She's on quite the fishing expedition. Here is another lawsuit filed by her [courthousenews.com], from 2012, suing Pinkmeth (again), Katz Global Media (for the crime of providing anonymous hosting), and Verisign. Yeah, she sued Verisign. Maybe that suit didn't work out so well, so she thought she would try her hand against Tor. Not exactly the best way to make a name for herself as a criminal justice major. I suspect that pursuing suits like these will serve is much more of a "loss in earning capacity" than a porn picture ever would. She might also be interested that her Facebook profile is open for the world to see. Here she is [facebook.com].

      Maybe she's just trying to clog up the Google search results for her name with information about lawsuits instead of her actual pictures. You have to go to page 4 to find this one [tumblr.com] (which is not Pinkmeth), page 6 for this one [tumblr.com] (also not Pinkmeth), and page 8 for this one [tumblr.com] (again, not Pinkmeth).

      I'm assuming she has no proof that would allow her to sue the person actually responsible for distributing the pictures (you know, other than her). Life lesson learned, I suppose. Try not to clog up the justice system.

      • All these people can file SLAPP motion. Even the legitimate ones can claim she's running SLAPP cases around the whole issue, and have her barred from bringing this shit up ever again.

    • by jader3rd (2222716)

      They set the standards for the TCP/IP protocol, the one used by the packets which conspired with the Tor network to move data around untraceably!

      Except that she's going after the part that made tracking a source difficult/impossible. With normal TCP/IP you can track where packets are coming from.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:12PM (#47417265) Journal

    On the Tor darknet are sites which host and trade enormous amounts of child porn, and one which specializes in leaked nude photos of celebrities, some of which have been successfully removed from the web. If it were legally possible to sue the Tor project over .onion sites, it would have been done a looooong time ago.

    • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:17PM (#47417311) Homepage Journal
      You forget that this case is in Texas and that Porn and the Internet are involved. Quite literally anything can happen here.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Quite literally anything can happen here.

        In that case, my money's on Godzilla.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes although I'd bet money that Shelby Conklin is going to discover how unpleasant the Streisand Effect can be. She will probably now be known as the revenge porn woman.

        • by quantaman (517394)

          Yes although I'd bet money that Shelby Conklin is going to discover how unpleasant the Streisand Effect can be. She will probably now be known as the revenge porn woman.

          I don't agree with her suing Tor but I disagree that this is necessarily an instance of the Streisand Effect.

          Not taking action would be succumbing to a form of the heckler's veto. I suspect in a lot of cases they start out trying to get rid of the info and most stop when it becomes obvious they'll only make it more public. But in a case like this she might be willing to face the publicity because she thinks seeking justice is more important than giving up.

      • Not anything. Magic won't become real, even if a Texas court decrees it.

      • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:41PM (#47417619)

        I can't wait for the confusion when the judge orders that Tor be executed.

        • by l0ungeb0y (442022)
          I wonder if they'll issue exhumation orders for Tor Johnson so the can carry out the execution...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:12PM (#47417273)

    In breaking news, Microsoft will be sued by the state of New York for authoring and distributing the malicious software called Excel. Investors on Wall Street have used this nefarious software to destroy the world economy while raking in billions of dollars for themselves.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:15PM (#47417297)

    Better add DARPA and Jon Postel as codefendants. I hear they came up with this thing called TCP/IP, which aids and abets people like Tor putting together anonymous networks in the first place; it's a clear case of collusion...

    Bonus Points: I hear DARPA has deep pockets...

  • Streisand effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by johanw (1001493) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:18PM (#47417327)

    I'm looking at her pictures right now. Unfortunately Pinkmeth is SLOW right now. Might have something to do with all the fuzz about it. :-)

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      What, no links? Bastard. I hadn't heard of this site until I got to Slashdot. Bookmarked for later review.

      [John]

    • by Ardyvee (2447206)

      More than be mad you didn't post links, I'm surprised that you didn't post under Anonymous Coward (even if you claim is untrue).

  • Gun Argument (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:18PM (#47417329)

    So if they go after Tor for a service someone else provided using Tor, isn't that like going after gun manufacturers for the murders their products help commit? Not trying to start a flame war or anything but this seems kinda close to that notion to me. I'd have a really good laugh if Texas set some legal standard for going after gun manufacturers in the US with this.

    • I agree, it seems pretty close to that. Any lawyers want to comment? This could be entertaining :D

    • So if they go after Tor for a service someone else provided using Tor, isn't that like going after gun manufacturers for the murders their products help commit?

      Yea, kinda.

      Not trying to start a flame war... I'd have a really good laugh if Texas set some legal standard for going after gun manufacturers in the US with this.

      So much for not trying to start a flame war.

      Anyway, the precedent is already set, at least in terms of firearms manufacturers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

      Short answer, no, you can't sue them for what people do with their products.

  • In the age of the internet, don't take nude pics.
    • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:25PM (#47417399)

      Especially when you are majoring in criminal justice, a field known for having the policy that any bit of dirt found on you can and will be used by someone who wants to hurt you with it.

    • ...unless you're good looking enough to make a career out of it.

    • by Stan92057 (737634)
      No its don't share/give away what you have no right to share/giveaway with others
    • If you are going to take nude pics, know how to handle data properly and securely. DONT take them with a device that is connected to the internet.
  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:22PM (#47417377)
    Looking like an idiot is not the way to do it
  • Because, seriously, how frequently does this lesson have to be retaught?
  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:25PM (#47417415)

    Was "revenge porn" non-existant before Tor? I don't see how this (or any other similar) case has any merit whatsoever. Sue the one(s) who masterminded the criminal act(s). I mean, I know I'm preaching to the choir here... but it's like suing AT&T for providing phone lines to someone who recorded phone sex conversations with their spouse and released them after they split up. It's like suing Sony for providing the video camera to Paris Hilton. Lame, lame lame. Ignorant, shortsighted, lame.

    • by jpvlsmv (583001)

      Was "revenge porn" non-existant before Tor?

      It was mostly limited to scratching "For a Good Time Call Jenny 867-5309" on the bathroom stall of every local truck stop/gas station.

      And no more defamatory then, either.

      • It was mostly limited to scratching "For a Good Time Call Jenny 867-5309" on the bathroom stall of every local truck stop/gas station.

        That was you? You bastard; I wasted so many quarters trying get in touch with her as I followed her around the country!

  • I can't say much about the merit of the case or common sense, but considering radar jammer manufacturers can be held accountable for miss-use (intended abuse of the law) its at least possible that the case will go to trial. The significant note of the case (if it continues) will be if TOR is designed to facilitate breaking the law or if it has enough legal uses to be considered incidental support, like the internet, air, electricity, etc...

    • by CRCulver (715279)
      In US law it has long been recognized that private letters between two living people cannot be published without consent. Only a paraphrase can be published. It's perfectly reasonable to hold that this extends to private photos taken between two parties on the understanding that these will stay published. Case law hasn't been settled yet, and state legislatures are only beginning to take up the matter, so it's not so simple as you make it out to be.
    • Well, since TOR was developed by DARPA, and still actively funded by the Department of Defense, I would guess it will be trivial to show that it has significant legal uses.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:31PM (#47417491) Homepage

    Don't want your nudes to end up in public? Don't take nudes that you wouldn't want the public to see. Then you can be a true victim. The whole concept of "revenge porn," insofar as it applies to nudes and porn freely made and disseminated, is ever so much "I want my freedom.... but I don't want my choices to have consequences of which I don't approve."

    We have a term for that behavior. It's called behaving like a child.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ADRA (37398)

      Laws exist in a large part to protect the dumb, naive, incapable, or ignorant individuals in our population. Choose your insult and blame society for being too liberal supportive of any group and you can say the same thing.

      • by Falos (2905315)
        The law needs to protect the incapables who can't secure information themselves physically (eg safe, vault) or digitally. The law doesn't need to protect (it can't) those who think distributed information, that is, data in the wild can be owned or controlled. Either it's a secret or it's "compromised", like it has been since the beginning of human communication - it's just faster now. We don't need more cases of plebs getting convicted over public-facing data, over servers with no authentication or creden
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:46PM (#47417649)

      Seriously? Under what logic is it okay to publicly disseminate, often for the express purpose of humiliation, someone else's private photographs whether obtained illegally, surreptitiously, or shared in confidence with you?

      She's not being a child. She's taking a stand against someone else's repugnant behavior.

      • by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:32PM (#47418215)

        She's taking a stand against someone else's repugnant behavior.

        By suing what appears to be everyone except that someone else?

      • Seriously? Under what logic is it okay to publicly disseminate, often for the express purpose of humiliation, someone else's private photographs whether obtained illegally, surreptitiously, or shared in confidence with you?

        You're missing the point. It's not ok, but it is a highly foreseeable consequence of taking nude photographs, much less disseminating them. You'd have to live under a rock and have a Pollyannaish view of human relations in 2014 to have no idea that this is a common consequence. Most often

    • by Pope (17780)

      More like don't put nudes on an online photo sharing service, password-protected or not.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      The whole concept of "revenge porn," insofar as it applies to nudes and porn freely made and disseminated, is ever so much "I want my freedom.... but I don't want my choices to have consequences of which I don't approve."

      Does this only apply to revenge porn, or would you also blame someone who gets mugged for being out after dark?

      We have a term for that behavior. It's called behaving like a child.

      No, that's just you attempting to use rhetoric to dismiss a position without actually analysing it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      Don't want your nudes to end up in public? Don't take nudes that you wouldn't want the public to see. Then you can be a true victim. The whole concept of "revenge porn," insofar as it applies to nudes and porn freely made and disseminated, is ever so much "I want my freedom.... but I don't want my choices to have consequences of which I don't approve."

      We have a term for that behavior. It's called behaving like a child.

      Technically true if she posted the photos on Facebook or something.

      Instead, what happens i

    • by jythie (914043)
      So... why is it the people who upload and host this stuff do not have consequences? Why is it people who are actively crappy to others do not have this same mantra associated with them?

      Oh yeah, freedom is for men, but women need to guard themselves and not cause trouble. Malicious acts are fine as long as you can slut shame the other person into silence.
      • by BobMcD (601576)

        So... why is it the people who upload and host this stuff do not have consequences?

        I think that's a legitimate TOR angle, actually. In order to leverage the law you need to know where they physically are. TOR hides that, per design.

        There's a case here, folks.

        TOR is inhibiting legal remedies.

    • That is like telling someone

      "Don't want to be in a car accident? Quit your job and never leave your home."

  • by fallen1 (230220) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:33PM (#47417523) Homepage

    THANKS for letting me know there are nude photos of you on the internet -- and where to find them! YOU are a font of information and those of us who never even knew this site existed are thankful you are too stupid to realize you just made yourself even more of a search topic. And your lawsuit will fail.

    Congrats! :)

  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @01:38PM (#47417589) Homepage
    Tor isnt a service, its a technology and accompanying data protocol. There is no corporate entity or backer that "crontrols" the network or if there were, the federal government would have beaten this attorney to the punch long ago. Its like trying to sue LUKS deveopers for a hard drive that cant be read by the NSA.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:11PM (#47417913) Homepage

    Can you sue automakers for car crashes not caused by defect?

    Can you sue gun makers for deaths?

    Can you sue the financial industry for losses in the market?

    Then why the hell is this any different? Hell, sue the fscking NSA for not having told you about it and stopped it.

    • Can you sue automakers for car crashes not caused by defect?

      Yes.

      Can you sue gun makers for deaths?

      Yes.

      Can you sue the financial industry for losses in the market?

      Again, Yes.

      Then why the hell is this any different?

      It's not. Nothing is stopping you from suing anyone for anything, you just need to be prepared to pay for a lot of legal fees as your cases get dismissed left and right. This is America and we can sue anyone we damn well please for any frivolous reason. You just can't always win. The only requirement for a tort is a civil wrongdoing, intentional or unintentional, and you, plaintiff, have to achieve the preponderance of the evidence.

      Hell, sue the f[u]cking NSA for not having told you about it and stopped it.

      Give her time, she's working on including them for failin

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:16PM (#47418001)

    ... DARPA [wikipedia.org]. So why not go after the deep pockets?

  • Next up, AT&T is sued over a prank phone call. None of this could have happened if it weren't for those pesky kids, and the phone company!
  • ...why not sue the internet?

    Or is that next?

    This seems a little like suing a typewriter manufacturer because their product defeats handwriting analysis.

    • She should at least sue Al Gore, since he invented the damn thing!

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        She should at least sue Al Gore, since he invented the damn thing!

        Before someone else jumps on this, the actual quote was "I took the initiative in creating the internet".

        So, it's "created", not "invented". Pedants will take one to task for getting that wrong.

        But should such a lawsuit ever take place, I'd be in the front row, with popcorn.

  • by redelm (54142) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:57PM (#47418561) Homepage

    ... as in "You've Been Served!" Anyone can file a lawsuit against anyone over anything. The first problem is finding and getting that person into the Court. For this you need Process Servers to properly serve a Notice of Hearing. Default judgement is only possible with correct service.

    TFA didn't mention who she is serving but if she can find anyone, the most they could say is "Yes, I was involved in setting up Tor Long-ago and Far-Away. No possible knowledge or involvement with complaint." And the Judge will excuse them.

    Pretty lame of a law-student not-to-know. Most likely a publicity stunt.

  • Seriously, it is good that lawsuits are happening. That will change things. For example, if a class action were to happen to target AND MICROSOFT, we would see mass changes in America over this.

    BUT, when going after innocent parties, that gets old.
  • I'm gonna waste time trying to find her photo's Daaaaam you Streisand effect

  • I thought I knew you people...

    This article is hours old, and there's no link to the .onion address of the revenge site.

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