FTC and Nevada Seek to Halt Revenge Porn Site
The Federal Trade Commission and the state of Nevada have charged the parties responsible for a revenge porn site with violating federal and state law by posting intimate images of people, together with their personal information, without their consent. One of the defendants has agreed to a permanent ban on posting intimate images without consent.
In a complaint filed in federal court, the FTC and Nevada charged that the website, MyEx.com, is dedicated solely to revenge porn and has solicited intimate pictures and videos of victims, together with their personal information such as their name, address, employer, and social media account information. The site urged visitors to “Add Your Ex,” and to “Submit Pics and Stories of Your Ex.” In numerous instances, the defendants allegedly charged victims fees from $499 to $2,800 to remove their images and information from the site.
“MyEx.com uses reprehensible tactics to profit off of the intimate details of individuals’ private lives,” said Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “People who were featured on this site suffered real harm, including the loss of money they paid to remove intimate images and personal information, loss of jobs, and being subject to threats and harassment.”
According to the complaint, visitors to MyEx.com can rate the videos and pictures they see and post comments about the victims. At various times, the site included victims’ full date of birth, personal email address, telephone number, and links to social media profiles, along with the intimate images.
The FTC alleges that the defendants were aware that many of the individuals did not agree to having their intimate images and personal information posted to MyEx.com. As of December 2017, there were approximately 12,620 entries on the site, according to the complaint.
Many individuals suffered serious harm because of the defendants’ conduct. In addition to experiencing direct financial loss by paying fees to the defendants, the complaint asserts, among other things, that individuals lost their jobs and received threatening and harassing emails and social media messages.
The complaint names EMP Media, Inc., Aniello “Neil” Infante, Shad “John” Applegate, also known as Shad Cottelli, and one or more unknown parties doing business as Yeicox Ltd. The FTC alleges that the defendants’ practices constitute unfair acts or deceptive practices in violation of the FTC Act. In addition, Nevada alleged that the defendants’ conduct constitutes a deceptive trade practice under Nevada law.
The Commission, together with Nevada, has approved a
proposed settlement with one of the defendants, Neil Infante. Infante served in various corporate roles, including President of EMP
Media Inc. Under the settlement, Infante is banned from posting intimate
images and personal information of others on a website without notice
and consent; required to destroy all such intimate images and personal
information in his possession; and banned from charging individuals fees
for removing such content from a website. He is also permanently restrained
from serving as an officer or director of any business unless he has knowledge
of the ordinary operations of that entity. Finally, he has agreed to a
$205,000 judgment, which the order will suspend upon payment of $15,000
in light of his inability to pay more. The payment received will be used
to provide redress to individuals who paid him take-down fees.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint against EMP Media (doing business as MyEx.com, T&A Media and Internet Secrets) and its officers Infante and Applegate, and one or more unknown parties (doing business as Yeicox Ltd.) and the proposed settlement with Infante was 2-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court. Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).