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A Dish Best Served: Revenge Sites Targeted By The Law

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On April 3, 2015, Kevin Christopher Bollaert, 27, creator of a revenge site which allowed personal photos and personal information to be posted without consent, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Bollaert faced a maximum sentence of 23 years.

Bollaert’s website was mostly used by disgruntled former boyfriends and included mainly nude photos of women with their real names attached and active links to their personal accounts on various social media platforms.

Bollaert then created a second website which took payments of hundreds of dollars from the victims in order to “buy back” their photos and information. According to the attorney general Bollaert collected over $30,000 from the site.

The sentencing arrived just months after formation of the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project, a volunteer effort of more than 50 lawyers, which works with victims of “revenge porn.”

The program is believed to be the first of its kind at a major United States law firm and is led by David A. Bateman, a partner in the firm’s Seattle office, and Elisa J. D’Amico, a litigator in the firm’s Miami office.

Most of its clients come through the program’s website or referrals from two national advocacy groups for victims of revenge porn, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and Without My Consent.

“The advocacy groups are really excited about what we are doing,” said Ms. D’Amico, a litigator who specializes in technology and Internet law issues.

All of this has paved the way for new legislation such as Michigan’s SB 0508 and SB 0509, which seek to criminalize acts posting or sharing sexually explicit content of someone without his or her consent.

First time offenders could serve up to three months in prison, pay up to $500, or both for disseminating revenge porn. State Senator Steven Bieda is one of the bills’ sponsors. He says technology allows pictures and videos to be taken and shared instantaneously, which leads to a new set of problems.

Bieda says the bills were co-sponsored by Republicans and Democrats in the State Senate.  The legislation passed both houses unanimously.

“I’ve had numerous complaints from mothers that their daughters had to leave high school because an ex-boyfriend put their nude image all over the high school,” says Republican State Sen. Rick Jones, one of the bill’s sponsors. “I’m not trying to fill up jails with young people using this to get back at their ex-girlfriend. What I want to do is prevent it before it happens. So we’re hoping that by publicizing this, everybody could be warned: If you play around with this type of activity to get even with an ex-girlfriend, it could get very expensive.”

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