Prison Sentence Looms For Revenge Porn Owner

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The owner of a ‘revenge porn’ website has been convicted of numerous charges in the United States

The owner of a ‘revenge porn’ website faces a lengthy stretch in jail after he was convicted of identity theft and extortion.

So-called ‘revenge porn’ is an an Internet phenomenon in which disgruntled ex-boyfriends or girlfriends post intimate, often naked, pictures of their former partners online without their permission.

Nasty Websites

Web developer Kevin Bollaert, 28, of San Diego, was found guilty this week of 27 counts (out of 31 charges), including identity theft and extortion, and he now faces up to 20 years in prison.

The San Diego County Superior Court jury was unable to reach verdicts on two charges of identity theft and conspiracy, and a judge declared a mistrial on those counts.

Porn - Shutterstock - © jaymastBollaert was found to be responsible for a number of criminal actions, and even his defence lawyer admitted that his actions was gross and offensive, but “not illegal”. He actions include running the ugotposted.com website where people submitted compromising pictures of their ex-partners (usually women).

In a nasty twist, posters could include the victims’ full names, the cities where they lived, and even links to their Facebook and Twitter profiles. Their contact details were also allowed to be published, as well as their places of work and other personal information.

Bollaert also ran another nasty website called changemyreputation.com, that victims could use to pay up to $350 (£230) to have their images removed.

Blackmail Scheme

Prosecutors said Bollaert had earned tens of thousands of dollars from the scheme, and victims had been harassed by people who tried to contact them through Facebook or by email.

One woman testified that it ruined her reputation and her relationship with her family. Two dozen people were named as victims of the scheme.

Bollaert has always argued that the site’s users had posted the pictures, not him. However, he also admitted knowing the pictures had been private and posted without the consent of his victims. He has reportedly described the business as essentially a blackmail scheme.

Bollaert was not convicted under California’s new revenge porn laws, which only came into effect after he was charged.

Bollaert will have to wait until April 3 to find out how long he will go to prison for.

This is not the first time that ‘revenge porn’ has hit the headlines. In January 2013, US Internet hosting giant Go Daddy was implicated in a lawsuit targeting administrators of a ‘revenge porn’ sites.

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