California Cracks Down on ‘Revenge Porn’

15 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Attorney General And Tech Firms Collaborate To End Cyber Exploitation.

LOS ANGELES – California’s attorney general has teamed with leaders in the tech industry and law enforcement to combat so-called cyber exploitation – the practice of anonymously posting explicit photographs of others online, often to extort money from the victims.

The site includes specific directions for how victims can report the crime to authorities and petition companies like Snapchat, 4chan and Google to remove the images. “Posting intimate images online without consent is a cowardly crime that humiliates and belittles victims,” Attorney General Kamala D. Kamala Harris announced Wednesday early results of the Cyber Exploitation Working Group, which includes representatives from the Department of Justice and technology giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Harris said in a statement. “These new tools will assist law enforcement in combating cyber exploitation and support victims in seeking justice.” In a press conference in Los Angeles, Harris spoke about the devastating effects of cyber-exploitation.

The group formed in February created an online hub that provides tools for victims seeking assistance and a “cheat sheet” for local police about new and existing laws. At the conference, Harris emphasized the need to prevent more victims from suffering the lasting damage of what she describes as “cyber exploitation.” “The term ‘revenge porn’ is misleading, because these victims are not engaged in pornography,” she said. “They describe losing job opportunities, having to reconsider their businesses and especially the businesses they may have at home.” Harris has already established a hard line against purveyors of web-based crime in California. The collaboration works toward updating state laws, increasing police training and promoting victim advocacy to bring awareness to the crime that Harris said undermines privacy, basic civil rights and public safety.

The attorney general’s office also has launched an effort to educate local law enforcement agencies about laws designed to combat the crime and prosecute the offenders who post the images and web services that profit from them. Last year, her office spearheaded investigations leading to the country’s first convictions for operating or posting to such websites–and two bills sponsored by Harris on cyber exploitation have crossed the desk of Gov.

Once posted online, images can spread like wildfire and there is almost no way to take them down because of fuzzy legislation and shady interpretation of the notion of free speech. Harris led the initiative in partnership with academics, law enforcement and dozens of tech companies, and said that it could be a model for other states to follow. Harris’ office said Meyering operated Winbystate.com, a site that solicited visitors to anonymously post nude photographs of individuals without their permission. In addition to collaborating with the DOJ on preventing cyber exploitation, they also outlined industry best practices to be placed on the initiative’s website.

In February, a San Diego man, Kevin Bollaert, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for operating a similar website, the first cyber exploitation case of its kind in the nation, according to Harris. The main Republicans in the race are Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside and two former chairmen of the California Republican Party, Contra Costa County lawyer Tom Del Beccaro and Silicon Valley attorney George “Duf” Sundheim. Many tech firms, including Facebook and Google, have instituted new policies making it easier for users to request that unauthorized online images are taken down, said John Doherty, vice president at TechNet and a member of the working group.

We’re proud that the technology industry has come together in support of this important issue to provide victims an avenue of protection,” Doherty said. Furthermore, this spring Twitter told users that it is against the site’s privacy policy to post nude pictures or images involving a sexual act without consent. In some cases, former boyfriends have posted intimate images of victims on websites to humiliate and embarrass them, even listing home addresses or other contact information that led to harassment. “Overwhelmingly, the Internet has been a force for good. The new website explains how victims of cyber exploitation can contact different technology companies to have images, including photos and videos, removed. The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative recently reported that over 90 percent of revenge porn are females, while 51 percent of surveyed victims said that they thought about suicide after their intimate images were posted online.

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