Internet blackmail – further down the rabbit hole
Marc Randazza has picked a fight with “David Blade,” attorney at law and isanybodydown.com. These guys seem to follow a similar business model to mugshots.com, publishing photos and then asking for money to take them down, except – “Blade’s” scam involves republishing nude photos found on facebook without consent, and includes the crime of pretending to be an attorney who will get the photos removed for a fee:
Here’s their business plan:
Step one: Register the domain name “isanybodydown.com”
Step two: Get ahold of nude photos of people who never consented to having their photos published.
Step three:Publish them, along with their names, home towns, and links to their facebook profiles.
So now how do you “profit?”
Well, openly saying “I’ll take down the photo for $250,” would probably create some legal issues for you. So, instead, you create a fake lawyer persona and say “I am an internet lawyer, named David Blade, III, and I’ll get your pics down for $250.”
According to Marc, there is no attorney named David Blade, nor would the website owner identify himself in an email exchange between the two where, ironically, the website owner accuses Randazza of extortion for threatening to expose the guy.
1) Does mughots.com have a first amendment right to publish booking photos and then charge money to remove them, even when a person’s charges were dismissed or expunged? At least one attorney on a local listserve has suggested that they do.
2) If the above is true, then does isanybodydown.com also have a first amendment right to publish nude photos of a person and then charge money to remove them from their website? What is the difference?
In my opinion no – I think that both companies crossed the line into blackmail when they demanded money to remove the information from their websites. Clearly, isanybodydown goes a step further into criminal conduct by impersonating an attorney and claiming that they remove the photo by legal action. What other embarrassing personal information can we come up with that we can publish then demand payment to remove from public view?