1. This is an interesting question, and a great example of the divide between what’s legal and what’s right. If I were running a “fatties” site, I’d be nervous about hiding behind the Communications Decency Act. There’s a precedent against revenge porn sites and it doesn’t take much imagination to extend that to non-pornographic-but-still-harassing sites. Where 530 Fatties differs is that the photos are public instead of private and they’re not extorting the subjects for money.

    That seems like a meaningful difference, though it’s certainly objectionable. It will probably take several court cases to settle the matter. Writing a law that could prohibit such sites while still allowing “constructive free speech” (for lack of a better term) would be incredibly challenging. Certainly there are a number of use cases where the unauthorized (by the subject of the photo) use of a photo taken in public should be protected.

  2. This is one of the trickier issues to solve using the law. I have my doubts that lawmakers or courts would ever be able to finely tune a rule well enough to do something about the acts that we find very objectionable without harming the most fundamental free speech rights. This may be a situation where some existing law for things like negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress can address the harms you outline without us having to create new laws.

    This also reminds me of an argument I heard at the IAPP conference in March that the best defense to invasion of privacy is essentially a good offense. By publicizing the people who do immoral things, we take their tools and shame them into better behavior. I am still not sure what I think about that argument.

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