FTC settles case against 'revenge porn' site operator

By Anne Flaherty
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Colorado man accused of operating a “revenge porn” website has settled with federal regulators who said he broke the law by posting nude pictures of women without their consent or knowledge.

The FTC says Craig Brittain of Colorado Springs, Colo., ran the website isanybodydown.com, which is no longer operational. Officials say the site worked like this: A man would obtain the images while dating the woman. But upon breaking up, the woman’s ex would supply the photos to Brittain, who would post them along with the woman’s full name, age, home town, phone number and link to her Facebook profile. The FTC says Brittain advertised a separate legal service that claimed to be able to take down the photos for a fee of up to $500.

A phone number tied to Brittain’s address had been disconnected, and he could not be reached for comment. It’s unclear whether Brittain had a lawyer.

The case signals an increased interest by regulators in revenge sites, which have proliferated in recent years in part because of lax laws aimed at protecting free speech on the Internet and preventing website operators from being punished for linking to content they believe is lawful. The case is the first of its kind for the FTC, which has the authority to sue companies for unfair and deceptive business practices.

“One key factor in this case was the publication not only of victims’ intimate images, but also extensive personal identifying and location information, which significantly increased the harm that victims could face,” said Mark Eichorn, assistant director of the division of privacy and identity protection at the FTC.

Under the settlement, Brittain is required to delete all of the images and other personal information he received while operating the site. He also is prohibited from publicly sharing intimate videos or photographs of people without their consent.

The website, “isanybodydown.com,” is no longer operational.

Brittain won’t be required to pay financial restitution. While the agency doesn’t have the authority to seek civil penalties, it could demand that Brittain repay any women who paid his bogus legal service in an attempt to erase embarrassing photos.

The FTC won’t say publicly why it declined to seek refunds in this case. But it noted that it takes several factors into account when deciding whether to pursue money to pay back victims of a scam, including the person’s ability to pay.


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