'Revenge Porn' Site Sued for Privacy Invasion
DENTON, Texas (CN) - A "revenge pornography" website gained unauthorized access to nude photographs of a woman and posted them on the Internet, the woman claims in court.
Shelby Conklin sued Verisign, Katz Global Media, and Pinkmeth.com, in Denton County Court.
Pinkmeth is her main target. She claims Tucson-based Katz sold "anonymous hosting" Internet services to PinkMeth, and she wants Verisign to disable the PinkMeth website.
"PinkMeth.com, as well as PinkMeth.net and PinkMeth.org are 'revenge pornography' or 'involuntary pornography' websites," the complaint states. "The purpose of these illicit websites is to solicit and post suggestive and naked persons [sic] of persons who were photographed without their consent or permission. Websites such as PinkMeth.com also solicit computer hackers to gain unauthorized access to such files belonging to plaintiff and similarly situated individuals for the purpose of uploading them to the website.
"To further invade the privacy of their victims, PinkMeth.com posts the social media pages of their victims including but not limited to their Facebook profiles, for the purpose of embarrassing and harassing them and/or encouraging others to embarrass and harass them.
"PinkMeth.com and related websites do not obtain the permission of their victims prior to posting pornographic images of them (and the names of their hometowns) on the World Wide Web. Furthermore, defendants do not verify the ages of their victims prior to posting naked photographs of them on the World Wide Web. Upon information and belief, several of their victims are under the age of eighteen (18) years. Thus, PinkMeth.com is ostensibly engaged in the illegal distribution of child pornography.
"When victims of PinkMeth.com or PinkMeth.org send legal demands for the removal of the unauthorized images from defendants' website, these communications are typically posted on the website for the purpose of further harassing them.
"Defendants cannot claim 'fair use' of any of the images they have misappropriated on their website because the illegal publication of child pornography and adult pornography (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2257) can never be lawful.
"Plaintiff has been a victim of the practices of defendants described ... above. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants committed these acts against her by obtaining unauthorized access to private social media accounts."
Conklin claims the presence of the photos on the World Wide Web "will substantially diminish any likelihood that she will be able to obtain a career in law enforcement." She says they also have caused her to fear for her safety and that because of them she "has received several threatening or otherwise disconcerting electronic communications." She says her fear of sexual assault has become so great that "she has felt compelled to borrow a firearm from a family friend to protect herself against the possibility of a sexual assault in her own home."
Conklin seeks punitive damages of more than $1 million from PinkMeth, for intrusion on seclusion, public disclosure of private facts, appropriation of her name and likeness, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She wants to depose a representative of Katz Global Media, and she wants Verisign ordered to disable the PinkMeth.com website.