There has been a cloud of kudos and congratulations for law professors who claim to be “heroes of the internet,” for their fight against revenge porn. For example, Brian Leiter seems to credit a trio of law professors who have never handled a single case. Meanwhile, when it comes to revenge porn, our lawyer actually got results in court.
In the past, revenge porn operators have tried to claim that they are protected by the same law that protects our right to share your consumer reviews – 47 U.S.C. § 230. However, these people are what the Economist called “Misery Merchants” (in an article where they interviewed Randazza. They are not protected by Section 230. And, let’s remember how strong Section 230 is – as consumer review sites are deemed to be protected, again and again. This site itself has been the subject of two reported cases, Ascentive v. Opinion Corp. and Roca Labs v. Opinion Corp. (Randazza was lead counsel in the Roca Labs case for us).
But, as much as Randazza has fought for our freedom of expression and our Section 230 rights, he is an advocate for personal privacy. For that reason, he took on revenge porn operators, pro bono. He was instrumental in getting Hunter Moore’s site, Isanyoneup, off the Internet. He followed that up killing its successor “misery merchant” site. And, he’s handled a number of cases for revenge porn victims that didn’t make it into the press – because he protected the victims’ privacy.
Revenge porn is not what Section 230 was designed for. Section 230 is there to protect service providers, and stands as the shield against those who would try and take down review sites rather than provide good service. Unfortunately, there are those who prefer to use censorship to achieve their commercial goals, just like there are those who would use censorship to stop revenge porn. Randazza himself is against that. While that might seem inconsistent with his record of fighting against revenge porn, he says it is not.
“There are legitimate ways to fight revenge porn,” said Randazza. “But, unfortunately, these ‘heroes’, as they are called, have done nothing to actually fight the problem – all they’ve done is lobby for unconstitutional laws against it. They want to criminalize the distribution of one category of photographs, when what they should have been doing is pushing for better civil remedies for harassment.”
And that is dear to our hearts here at Pissed Consumer. We don’t believe in harassment. We believe in accurate consumer reviews. Section 230 protects one, but not the other. And, we are grateful that we are represented by a guy who knows the difference.