Revenge porn website operator found guilty in US

Californian man convicted of identity theft and extortion for running revenge porn websites

A website owner who published pornographic pictures of people online without their permission, before charging them to have the images removed, has been convicted in California.

Kevin Bollaert is facing up to 20 years in prison after being found guilty on 27 charges relating to identity theft and extortion during his time as a "revenge porn" website operator,  BBC News reports.

He ran a website that allowed disgruntled people to upload compromising photos of their former partners, alongside their social media contact details and other personal information.

In court, it was claimed this led to victims being harassed online through Facebook and Twitter by people who'd spotted their pictures online.

This constitutes a violation of Californian law, which bans the sharing of people's personal information with the "intent to annoy or harass" them.

Through another website he would then demand payment around $350 - from the victims featured in the photos if they wanted their images removed.

Although the State of California does have in place laws to prosecute people for revenge porn offences, he was not charged under this legislation because this reportedly came into force after his website was shut down.

Court documents revealed around 10,000 photos were posted on the site in total between 2012 and 2013, while Paypal accounts show he made tens of thousands of dollars through the websites.

Bollaert's defence lawyer Emily Rose-Weber said he may have run an "immoral business" but he had not broken the law.

"It's gross, it's offensive, but it's not illegal," she said, in her client's defence. 

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