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‘Revenge Porn’ Website Has Colorado Women Outraged

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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Investigator Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – A website operated from Colorado Springs that harvests hundreds of nude and explicit pictures and then displays them on the site has Colorado women outraged after their most private photos showed up unexpectedly on the website.

“It was definitely shocking,” said Sarah, a 20-year-old Denver resident who took revealing photos for her boyfriend who had moved out of state.

But suddenly, her private photos showed up on the website and were linked with her Facebook profile.

“I wanted to throw up,” said Sarah. “I couldn’t even understand how something like that could become public.”

Sarah suspects someone hijacked the pictures from her Photobucket account that was connected to her cellphone.

Caitlin, of Lakewood, had a similar reaction when she found her private photos on the site, “I threw up. I was pretty disgusted by the whole thing. I’m not sure how they were obtained.”

Caitlin had taken nude photos to share with her girlfriend but did not intend them for public consumption.

“This has nothing to do with free will. Those were my personal photos reserved for me privately and somehow they were taken and now they are all over the Internet for anyone to see. It’s an invasion of privacy and it’s disgusting,” said Caitlin.

The women agreed to be interviewed in the hopes that telling their stories would put an end to a website that has left them angry, embarrassed and humiliated.

The website was started about a year ago and is operated by Craig Brittain, a 28-year-old Colorado Springs resident. CBS4 is not identifying the website by name as women on the site say that would re-victimize them.

“I call it entertainment,” said Brittain. “We don’t want anyone shamed or hurt we just want the pictures there for entertainment purposes and business. I would say our business goal is to become big and profitable.”

Brittain said he typically makes about $3,000 a month from advertising on the website. He solicits people to anonymously send in explicit photos along with the victims’ Facebook profiles.

Brittain then reposts the information on his website, often including the women’s telephone numbers. Critics believe Brittain is striving for maximum humiliation of the women, but Brittain said he pairs the photos with the women’s Facebook profiles so viewers can get a better picture of who the women are and what they are about.

WATCH CBS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BRITTAIN: Part I | Part II

“I think that again we’re not doing anything , not trying to hurt them, we’re not out for revenge or being malicious, we just want entertainment, we want the money, we’re after making the buck,” said Brittain.

But a half dozen Colorado women on the website contacted by CBS4 said they believed what Brittain is doing is malicious and hurtful.

Craig Brittain (credit: CBS)

Craig Brittain (credit: CBS)

Many refer to what Brittain is doing as “Revenge Porn” or “Involuntary Porn” since most of the 700 women on the site have not consented to having their pictures posted and are angry about what has happened. One theory is that many of the pictures are provided by jilted ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands who now want to embarrass their exes.

Brittain also offers a “bounty” to anyone who can help identify nude photos he has procured but has not been able to identify.

Many have begged Brittain to remove their photos, something he says can happen, for a price. A link on his site takes people to another site of a purported “Takedown Lawyer” named David Blade III. For a fee of $250, the purported lawyer would have people’s photos removed.

However Dr. Nicholas Weaver, a Ph.D. researcher in Network Security conducted a forensic computer analysis on emails from Craig Brittain and David Blade III.

Weaver concluded that emails from David Blade III and from Craig Brittain were “likely sent not just from the same IP address but from the same computer.”

The conclusion that attorney “David Blade” and Craig Brittain were using the same computer and same IP address has prompted many of the women to accuse Brittain of engaging in extortion and impersonating a lawyer.

Asked if he was indeed David Blade, Brittain said, “I’m not. Not true at all.”

Asked by CBS4 for contact information for Blade, Brittain said he did not know how to reach the purported lawyer, even though Blade posted ads on Brittain’s website and there are indications Blade sent emails from Brittain’s computer. Brittain claimed Blade paid him for the ads through PayPal.

A 25-year-old woman from Centennial, whose pictures were somehow pirated and posted on Brittain’s site said, “It’s extortion, if anything.”

After learning her pictures were on the site, the woman told Brittain he did not have her consent and demanded he remove her pictures. He referred her to the “Takedown Lawyer” who would get her pictures dropped for $250.

“I emailed back and told them I would take legal action and they said, ’Good luck with that.’ ”

She suspects the personal photos were obtained when she sold two cellphones on Craigslist and may have neglected to wipe the phones clean of the photos she had taken.

Adam Steinbaugh, a blogger and law student from California and critic of Brittain and his website, called what Brittain is doing “disgusting” and terms it “involuntary porn” since the women have not consented to their pictures being displayed.

“It victimizes people and takes advantage of people in a perilous state,” said Steinbaugh. “I think it exploits people and destroys people’s lives. These people are taking men’s and women’s nude photos without their consent and then have the audacity to say ‘We won’t take these down unless you pay our friend here,’ and that’s wrong,” said Steinbaugh.

“I think there is a lot of free speech that is protected but I don’t think this is.”

Brittain said he has not been sued for what he is doing nor has any law enforcement agency looked into his activities. He believes his website and his activities are protected by both the First Amendment and the Communications Decency Act which provides sweeping protections to websites like the one run by Brittain.

The law exempts Brittain and similar websites from liability provided their content is submitted by other people. Brittain insists he has not engaged in extortion nor has he violated the federal statute.

“I would suggest overall I’m one of the good guys,” said Brittain.

Asked if what he was doing was “remarkably sleazy,” Brittain replied, “We live in a really sleazy society.”

Sarah said “it’s one of those things you think is never going to happen to you but it does.

“And it has happened to a lot of people out there,” she said.

- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com

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