Portrait of an Activist: Charlotte Laws

There are many activists I look up to, but just one example is Charlotte Laws, a woman who took on a man known as “the most dangerous man on the internet”.  Charlotte Laws’ daughter had her email hacked and her private pictures were posted on a revenge porn website run by Hunter Moore. Along with the pictures Moore posts the woman’s email, Facebook, addresses, workplaces, and any other information he can find so these women face a barrage of hateful cyber-bullying and can lose their jobs due to the risqué photos posted of them without their permission. One woman was even at risk of losing custody of her children. Over 47% of the women who had their pictures posted had suicidal thoughts and two women have committed suicide due to the harassment they faced. Moore was known as “the most dangerous man on the internet” because he had a large following, many of whom were talented hackers. He also regularly encouraged the victims to commit suicide because he thought the victims were “sluts” who deserved the harassment. When Laws found out about her daughter’s photo she knew very little about revenge porn and the laws surrounding it (there were no laws to protect people from revenge porn, the only one was in New Jersey), but within one week’s time she became an expert on the subject and taught other victims on how to copyright their pictures to get them off the website. Even though Laws had little to no help from law enforcement, the LAPD even blamed the victims for the harassment, but she contacted the FBI and they opened a case. She got help from Mandy, a woman who was also hacked and faced being ostracized from her religious family due to the photos. Together Mandy and Laws contacted thousands of victims across the US to form a support network. Laws was once a private-eye and used those skills to find all she could for the FBI investigation. Mandy and Laws made an alliance with Facebook and PayPal to prevent Moore from connecting victim’s photos to their Facebook accounts and to prevent the site from getting donations. Around the time Laws was in contact with a newspaper to publish a story on Moore and his website, Moore and his followers to attacked Laws, filling her computer with viruses and giving her death threats. A van even started to loiter in the street in front of her house. She then received a call from “Jack,” a man from the organization Anonymous, a powerful group of hackers that take down bullies such as Moore. Anonymous launched a large technological assault on Moore and his website, crashing his servers and publicizing his personal information. Moore stopped his attack on Laws and even though his website was shut down Laws did not stop there. She continued to push for laws that would protect people from other revenge porn websites by meeting with state and federal politicians and testified in favor of a bill in CA to end revenge porn which passed. Laws used her skills as a private-eye and made alliances with many people to fuel her activism and continues today to get a federal bill passed to end revenge porn sites.

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