Protect your local ISP
Lisa Vaas, a journalist I respect, has an interesting post on NakedSecurity. It discusses the problem of revenge porn sites, and the distress and harm they can cause.
In particular, it highlights the cases of Holly Jacobs and a separate class action by 17 women against one particular site, and GoDaddy for hosting the site. Lisa is right in that something must be done about revenge porn – nobody has the right to inflict pain on any other person. But what to do is the problem.
Lisa supports the action against GoDaddy:
The notion of GoDaddy being taken to task hardly seems confused. It seems appropriate, the hosting provider being an accessory to the alleged crimes and having profited off them, to boot.
This is an understandable but dangerous reaction. ISPs and hosting companies must not become tasked with censoring what they host unless it is clearly and plainly illegal (and even then the alleged criminal site should have clear legal recourse to appeal and be reinstated if it is not illegal).
If GoDaddy is found liable for the content of the websites it hosts, where will it stop? There’s a conceptually similar case in Belgium, where the music rights group SABAM is suing ISPs for lost revenue through illegal music downloads, and also demanding a general 3.4% tax levy on users to pay for illegal downloads.
If cases like these succeed, then ISPs will become afraid of legal action against them whenever a hosted site publishes material that might offend or upset powerful vested interests: ISPs will err on the side of bland to protect their revenue, and freedom and liberty will take a serious hit. ISPs must be protected conduits, like snail mail, and not be responsible for what they carry.
Lisa is right that something needs to be done about revenge porn sites – but the target must be the people who post the material, not the sites themselves and most certainly not the ISPs and hosting companies.