The Federal Trade Commission is banning Craig Brittain, founder of the notorious revenge porn site IsAnybodyDown, from publishing any more nude photos or videos of people without first receiving their explicit consent. As part of a settlement with the commission, Brittain will also have to destroy all images and personal information that he collected during the course of operating IsAnybodyDown.
Revenge porn remains difficult to prosecute
That all may seem like a really common sense solution that the FTC shouldn't have to step in and mandate, but it unfortunately is. While several states have begun to implement bans, in many areas of the US it still remains difficult for victims to get their photos and information removed from offending websites. Revenge porn exists in a legal gray area that makes it fairly challenging to prosecute, in large part because the complainants often don't own the photographs that they're featured in.
Brittain does not admit any fault or involvement under the terms of the settlement, which follow FTC charges that he used unfair and deceptive practices in running his website. The commission alleged that, while operating the website between 2011 and 2013, Brittain received nude photos of women in three ways: by posing as a woman on Craigslist and asking other women to send him photos, by asking his visitors to anonymously submit photos they had collected, and by allowing his visitors to offer a bounty for nude photos of a specific person.
What's even worse about Brittain's sites is that he's also alleged to have operated pseudo legal-services that could get nude photos removed from IsAnybodyDown for a $200 to $500 fee. In total, the commission believes that he earned $12,000 from operating the site. On top of that, IsAnybodyDown also included personal information about the people featured in its photographs, often including their phone number or a link to their Facebook page.
"This behavior is not only illegal but reprehensible," Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, says in a statement. "I am pleased that as a result of this settlement, the illegally collected images and information will be deleted, and this individual can never return to the so-called ‘revenge porn’ business."
The commission's settlement goes further, also explicitly banning Brittain from misrepresenting what he'll do with information the he collects online. The settlement will be open for public comment for the next 30 days, after which there will be a vote to finalize it. It's not clear whether the FTC will be able to use similar proceedings to take down other revenge porn operations, but the commission's actions here show that there may be another course for stopping other exploitative sites.