Revenge-Porn Site Shut Down by FTC

Credit: Spiber.de/Shutterstock

(Image credit: Spiber.de/Shutterstock)

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shut down "revenge-porn" site IsAnybodyDown.com, and banned its operator, Colorado resident Craig Brittain, from sharing any more nude photos or videos of people without their consent. The complaint, which ended in a settlement between the FTC and Brittain, may signal a federal government crackdown on revenge-porn websites.

Under the terms of his settlement with the FTC, Brittain will receive no fines or jail time. He is required to permanently delete all the nude or pornographic material he had obtained while running his operation.

MORE: 7 Ways to Lock Down Your Online Privacy

To obtain photos for his website, Brittain encouraged men to submit nude photos of their exes to his site. The people submitting the photos were allowed to remain anonymous, but the submissions themselves had to include the full names, addresses, phone numbers and Facebook profiles of the women depicted.

Brittain even offered bounties of $100 or more for the pictures and personal information of specific individuals, the FTC complaint alleges. It also says Brittain posed as a woman on Craigslist in order to connect with other women, and exchanged nude photos ostensibly of himself in exchange for theirs.

"When women provided him with the photos, Brittain posted them on his site without their knowledge or permission," the FTC press release states.

But that's not all: Brittain also operated separate services called Takedown Hammer and Takedown Lawyer, on which he would charge women between $200 and $500 to get their nude photos taken down from IsAnybodyDown. (The names references an earlier, more notorious revenge-porn site called IsAnyoneUp.com, which closed down in 2012.)

The FTC's ban on Brittain will prevent him from starting any new porn-related businesses. If he breaks this ban, he'll be charged $16,000 per day, a FTC spokesperson told the British tech-news site The Register. 

"This behavior is not only illegal, but reprehensible," Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a press statement.

Federal legislation against revenge porn is vague, and state legislation varies widely. In California, revenge porn is explicitly illegal; last month, a resident was sentenced to one year of jail and three years' probation for posting topless pictures of his ex-girlfriend to Facebook. Other cases in the U.S. have led to civil lawsuits, sometimes involving copyright violations, against disseminators of nude images distributed without consent of the subjects.

Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can follow Jill on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.