Texan woman sues Tor in $1 million revenge porn lawsuit

The encryption service has been caught up in a case against Pink Meth, a horrifying porn site that offers bitcoin for nudes of people's ex-partners

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The Tor Project is being sued for hosting Pink Meth, a revenge porn site Johan Viirok via Flickr

The anonymising web service Tor isn't just famous for hosting darknet marketplaces like Silk Road. It's also a thriving destination for illicit adult material – and one pissed-off Texan resident is now taking its operators, the Tor Project, to court for hosting a revenge porn site called Pink Meth.  

Shelby Conklin has been launching lawsuits for over $1 million against the Tor Project for the past two years in an attempt to get her images removed from Pink Meth. According to the lawsuit, the sum is intended to compensate for mental anguish and loss of earning capacity. Conklin is going after the Tor Project because she claims that the software is to blame for allowing sites like Pink Meth to anonymously publish degrading content.

And it's pretty fucking degrading stuff. Revenge porn was made infamous by Hunter Moore, the founder of Is Anyone Up?, a site that uploaded and shared sexually explicit content without the consent of its subjects. But Pink Meth goes above and beyond that, with the promise of free bitcoin for submissions, depending on how x-rated they are:

Obviously, only women seem to feature in submissions. Pink Meth doesn't just publish the photos, either – the site makes a point of linking out to the subject's social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, just so the harassment can get even deeper and more personal. 

Conklin has hired Jason Lee Dyke, who describes himself as the "meanest and most right-wing lawyer in Texas" in his Twitter bio. Pink Meth has been retweeting threats from van Dyke, including a now-deleted Scribd link to the lawsuit, which states that Conklin and van Dyke will go after any browser that hosts the revenge porn site, Tor included. Pink Meth replied with a YouTube link to Frank Sinatra's "Call Me Irresponsible".

But it's difficult to foresee the Tor Project relenting to the pressure and removing Pink Meth. The ethos and design of the software itself centres on users' ability to remain anonymous and ghost through the internet; it's unlikely that Tor would compromise that to take down one website. And while eleven states in America have laws regarding revenge porn, Texas – where Conklin is based – is not one of them. It remains to be seen what fate awaits Pink Meth.

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