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Sextortion The basic framework of an sextortionist’s scheme is as cold as it was calculated: contact a young girl on a social networking site using a fake identity, gain her trust, extract some highly personal information, and then threaten to expose her intimate exchanges if she doesn’t assent to escalating demands for sexually explicit pictures or videos.
Sextortion is a pervasive and alarming problem that exists in the cyber space. The anonymity of the Internet generates a haven for sextortionists who perpetrate their deception by disappearing into cyberspace, often disguising themselves with stolen identities or hiding behind fabricated personas. Accordingly, people who commit sextortion are difficult to locate and prosecute. Moreover, there is no comprehensive federal invasion of privacy law to protect those who are victims of sextortion.
In sextortion matters, eventually the pictures and/or videos of the victim are posted on the Internet. Posting the photographs or videos may not be technically illegal because the media may be considered the photographer’s intellectual property (unless they are selfies), and many photographs and videos were initially taken with the victim’s consent.
The photographs and videos are difficult to remove because operators of the sextortion websites have claimed they are not responsible for user-submitted content due to the Communications Decency Act, which prevents sites from being held liable for user-posted content.