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    A Proposed Condom Law Could Help Stalkers Harass Porn Stars, Get Paid for It

    Written by Lux Alptraum

    Five years ago, the adult industry was rocked by a massive hack that led to doxxing of personal information—including legal names, birth dates, and, in some cases, home addresses—of some 12,000 current and former porn performers. Much of the leaked info had been obtained through a security breach of the patient database housed at AIM Health, then the primary clinic used for adult industry related testing and health concerns.

    In other words: The very organization that positioned itself as the champion of the adult industry’s safety and wellbeing had, inadvertently, caused deep, lasting damage to the vulnerable population it was sworn to protect.

    Sex workers aren’t strangers to the reality that the forces that claim to “protect” them could easily be turned against them. (See: the entire sex work “rescue” industry.) The AIM hack was a painful reminder that even organizations created by and for the industry could be turned against its members. And now, just a handful of years after the AIM debacle upended the life and livelihoods of a number of current and past performers, performers routinely find their privacy and safety threatened again, this time by state officials and government regulations purporting to protect them from the dangers of the industry.

    While doxxing can be damaging for virtually anyone, it’s particularly dangerous for porn performers, whose jobs make them especially vulnerable to harassment, overzealous fans, and stalkers.

    The AIM Health hack led to the creation of a database full of vicious attacks and violations of porn performer privacy

    “So many people create this very personal, intimate relationship with you," said Chanel Preston, president of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC). Preston explained that many fans—or, in the eyes of a performer, total strangers—see their masturbatory devotion to a particular performer as license to cross boundaries and behave inappropriately. And on the flip side, there are the anti-porn zealots who are all too happy to use whatever information they can to harm anyone who happens to make a living in the adult industry.

    And even if a porn performer manages to evade those risks, merely having one’s legal name easily connected to their porn work can do devastating damage. In the wake of the AIM Health hack, a number of performers found that anyone googling their legal name—whether that be a family member, a potential landlord, or even someone interested in hiring them for a non-porn job—would be greeted by the message that they were a “pornographic whore.”

    For a performer who’s not out to their family, or trying to make a life outside of the jizz biz, that kind of exposure is painful at best, and deeply derailing at worst. (I know of at least one performer who took the aggressive measure of changing her legal name as a way of escaping harassment and moving on with her life after her original name became permanently connected with porn.) In a world where banks shut down porn performers’ personal accounts without even a warning, the risks of being outed as a member of the adult industry are very, very real.

    Last week, CalOSHA issued nine citations (with fines totalling $77,875) against James Deen Productions. Whatever your feelings about James Deen, this wasn’t good news: A CalOSHA investigation isn’t just about levying fines against bad actors; it also means that any performer affiliated with the production—the very people CalOSHA is allegedly trying to protect—could end up with an extensive dossier of incredibly private information, all available to anyone driven to leaf through the CalOSHA records. Not long after the citations hit the headlines, a performer I know posted online that CalOSHA was now requesting her private information and medical records, likely in connection with this case.

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    “CalOSHA has a form where they request identifying information for the people in the shoot,” said Mike Stabile, a spokesperson for Kink.com, a fetish-driven porn studio that’s dealt with multiple CalOSHA citations itself. According to Stabile, the information requested includes performer names, legal names, driver’s license copies, medical records including test results, and even records of vaccinations—and the requests can extend beyond performers to include anyone else who was working on set, too.

    In a statement, a CalOSHA representative said "we take employee privacy extremely seriously and their information is not shared with the public. To the contrary, all personal information such as names, social security information and medical information is redacted before any file is given to the public in response to a request for information." (To its credit, Kink.com has fought to redact identifying information other than performer name from records it submits to CalOSHA. According to Stabile, this decision has been upheld by a judge every time.)

    And that’s just one way that porn performers are getting railed by the state of California. Much has been made of the way that the Condoms in Porn Initiative, a California ballot proposed by the anti-porn AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), threatens to drive the porn industry underground (or at least out of California) by enforcing draconian rules about on-set safer sex practices and slapping expensive fines and permit requirements on cash-poor porn producers. Less discussed is a provision of the legislation that could be used to harass and harm porn performers by revealing their legal names and private information to the public—while offering financial incentive to any Californian driven to harass a porn performer, to boot.

    Section 6720.6 outlines the process by which a whistleblower—which, as the ballot expressly notes, could be anyone living in the state of California—may bring charges against the producers of porn that doesn’t comply with the onerous regulations and requirements outlined in the initiative.

    Though the initiative positions this section as a way of protecting performers against the harmful actions of producers and directors, the fact that many performers create and produce their own content—whether for their own website, a Clips4Sale store, or even just camming—means performers themselves could easily be at risk of being dragged into court and getting their legal information entered into the public record, all because they, personally, made the decision that a condom wasn’t the right choice for a scene.

    Adding insult to injury is the fact that, should a whistleblower’s case prove successful, they’d personally be awarded 25 percent of any fines levied against the producer (with the other 75 percent paid to the state of California itself). Performers I’ve spoken with have outlined nightmare scenarios where aggressive stalkers might use this provision to gain all of their personal information, and then pocket some cash as a reward for their harassment.

    If this all seems like so much paranoia, well, it shouldn’t. The AIM Health hack led to the creation of a database full of vicious attacks and violations of porn performer privacy—a database that, it should be noted, is still online today. AHF has spent almost a decade routinely attacking the adult industry through lobbying, instigating CalOSHA (and even Nevada OSHA) investigations, and pushing through ballot initiatives that claim to protect performers while compromising their privacy and safety. The organization’s relentless, persistent assaults on the adult industry show no sign of letting up any time soon.

    The only difference between the AIM Health hackers and AHF is that the latter group is smart enough to cloak its attacks in language about safety, protection, and health. But when it comes to CalOSHA and the Condoms in Porn Initiative, Stabile told me, “performer privacy is not a priority”—and neither, for that matter, is performer safety, health, or wellbeing.

    Correction 3/24/16: This story originally stated that public records requests could be used to track down CalOSHA complaints. According to a CalOSHA, the agency does not release personal identifying information tied to complaints in response to public records requests.