Another ‘Revenge Porn’ Website Operator Busted By Law Enforcement

https://www.theblot.com/another-revenge-porn-website-operator-busted-law-enforcement-7715567

Another 'Revenge Porn' Website Operator Busted By Law Enforcement

Notorious Revenge Porn site is down

An Oklahoma man has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a so-called “revenge porn” website, the fourth such arrest by law enforcement in several weeks.

Casey Meyering, 28, was arrested in Tulsa, Okla., last week by California law enforcement agents with the cooperation of local police after being criminally charged on five felony counts in California.

According to by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Meyering was the owner and operator of WinByState.com, a “revenge porn” website that published “nude and explicit images of individuals without their permission.”

The site where users could publish nude photographs of other individuals, called “wins,” for viewing by other members. The website often encouraged members to include legal names of the individuals appearing in the photos. Court documents allege that the website would agree to remove a person’s photos from the forum for a $250 fee. The site referred to this as a “takedown,” authorities say.

After purchasing a “takedown” for one photo, authorities say they traced a Google Wallet account. The account listed a fictitious Beverly Hills address as its point of business and listed Meyering as the owner of the account, according to court documents.

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The California investigation began after a Northern California woman who claimed to be a victim of computer hacking discovered naked photos of herself on WinByState.com. The investigation reviewed “over 400 postings in the California forum,” and court documents say at least one of those postings contained a photograph of a person under the age of 18.

Meyering is being held in Oklahoma pending extradition to California, where he is expected to be arraigned on five felony counts of extortion. California authorities say they are working with GoDaddy.com to shut down WinByState.com.

Meyering’s arrest is the latest in California’s crackdown on “revenge porn” websites. Last year, San Diego resident Kevin Bollaert was for allegedly running a now-defunct website called ugotposted.com, which — like Meyering’s website — published nude and sexually explicit photos of people without their permission. Bollaert is further accused of running a “reputation protection” website, which offered to take down the offending images from the first website for a $300 fee.

Federal authorities have also begun to bring the hammer down on those who operate “revenge porn” websites. Last month,  for their involvement in another “revenge porn” website.

Hunter Moore, 27, was arrested at his home in Woodland, Calif., last month for his alleged involvement in a criminal hacking scheme tied to his website, IsAnyoneUp.com.

Authorities allege Moore and another man, 25-year-old Charles Evens of Southern California, conspired to hack into the email accounts of over a dozen individuals for the purpose of stealing sexually explicit photographs, which would later be published on Moore’s website.

A grand jury indictment charged Evens with the actual hacking; Moore is said to have paid Evens well over $1,000 by early 2012 for breaking into victims’ email accounts, court documents say.

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Several months after the scheme ended, Moore sold IsAnyoneUp.com to BullyVille, an anti-bullying website, which shut down the “revenge porn” operation. At the time, Moore said that his decision to sell the website was due to legal bills and “headaches” associated with removing images of minors.

Moore pled not guilty to the charges earlier this month. A federal judge has while out on bond. His trial has been tentatively set for early April.

The three cases are interesting in that none of them criminalize the publishing of sexually explicit images. The Communications Decency Act says website operators are not responsible for defamatory content published by users, and courts have generally held this to be true when the issue is raised.

California recently enacted legislation that without a person’s permission. — it doesn’t prohibit the publication and redistribution of nude “selfies,” only images taken by another person. And California’s law requires the state to prove that a person had in order for a crime to have occurred.

The issue has also raised serious First Amendment concerns, with the of California’s “revenge porn” law. Former judge Andrew Napolitano has of the websites, saying nude photos that appear on “revenge porn” websites were “freely given and freely received.” Criminalizing operators of the websites would be “invalidated under the First Amendment,” Napolitano said.

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Courts tend to side with the First Amendment on controversial issues, such as the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to hold anti-gay pickets outside the funerals of military service members. Some, like Napolitano, believe the law would side with “revenge porn” operators. Prosecutors probably see it this way too, which is why none of the four men recently arrested in connection with the sites are criminally charged for simply operating them.

Meyering and Bollaert are charged with extortion: both men are accused of profiting from a victim’s desire to have a nude photograph removed from their website. Moore and Evens are accused of conspiring to hack into protected email accounts, also a crime. The cases are meant to send a chilling message to operators of “revenge porn” websites — think twice about what you’re doing, because it’s likely a crime — but the reality is that “revenge porn” is still legal so long as operators are careful about how they get their photos and how they make their money.

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