Amid the hubbub of L’Affaire Ukrainienne, you could be forgiven for overlooking another story that has emerged out of Congress over the past week. It’s a grubby, unpleasant story—so much so that it feels ugly to draw attention to it. But the times are ugly, after all, and the story is a concerning harbinger of what might be to come in the lead-up to 2020.
Latest in Sextortion
In 2015, a Brookings paper identified 78 perpetrators of sextortion. I found many more—both alleged perpetrators and victims’ accounts.
Benjamin Wittes and I, along with other Lawfare writers, have published over the years on the phenomenon of “sextortion”—sexual violence that takes place over the internet, usually when the perpetrator obtains explicit images of a victim and uses that material to obtain money or further sexual images. Most sextortion cases we’ve covered have involved victims who were relatively unknown. There are a few exceptions—a former Miss Teen USA, for example.
Longtime Lawfare readers may be familiar with the work we have published on “sextortion”—a form of remote sexual violence that usually involves a perpetrator obtaining explicit images or video of a victim and using that material for blackmail, often to produce further sexual material or money. Editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes and I, along with colleagues Cody Poplin and Clara Spera, did a fair bit of research on the matter a few years ago.
Last Friday, Netflix launched the latest season of Black Mirror, a dystopian anthology series specializing in bleak, twisty set pieces about the capacity of technology to enable new and inventive forms of human cruelty.
Shortly after we released our sextortion reports back in May, Sen. Barbara Boxer wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch seeking data on the scope and magnitude of the problem: "court records show that some of these cyber-criminals have blackmailed hundreds of different victims online.
A few weeks ago, we noted the release of a new paper on sextortion by the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center.
As Ben noted last week, Janis Wolak and David Finkelhor of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center recently released a new report on sextortion, funded by Thorn. I have now read it carefully.
Yesterday, Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) introduced this bill, which they have dubbed the "Interstate Sextortion Prevention Act." The bill keeps the promise Rep.
Janice Wolack and David Finkelhor of the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center have an important new study out on their survey of sextortion victims. I haven't read it yet, but I'm very glad someone is doing this research. Two findings immediately stand out.