Blackmail! (1 Viewer)

tomwaits

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The Jeff Bezos thread on the PDB along with a podcast I heard recently had me thinking about blackmail in general. Why is it illegal?

The act of blackmail combines a request for something of value in exchange for doing or not doing something.
Now if both of these things are legal, why would combining the 2 things make it illegal?

Example:
Blackmailer requests $50 in exchange for not revealing embarrassing knowledge about the person being blackmailed.

Now the act of requesting money is not illegal. The act of releasing true information about someone (assuming it was attained legally) is also not illegal. So why is the combination illegal?
I am not saying that it is moral, but I don't see how this should be a legal violation.

Blackmail may also give the person being blackmailed more options than they would normally have had.
Example 1:
A has embarrassing information about B. A does not really like B to begin with and would receive pleasure in releasing this information about B.
In this case B has no options, and A can release the information that B does not want released.

Example 2:
A has embarrassing information about B. A does not really like B to begin with and would receive pleasure in releasing this information about B, but would receive more pleasure in $50 that B is willing to give in exchange for A not releasing the info.
In this case B and A are both now better off due to an agreement that B pays A $50. If blackmail was not illegal, they could have a contract for this interaction where if A did release the information anyway, A would owe B some agreed upon compensation.

This is also different from extortion where someone would be asking for something of value in exchange for not acting in a violent or destructive manner towards someone's person or property. In that case the 2nd action is already illegal.
Example:
Extortionist requests $50 or he will burn the other's store down.
 

mjcouvi

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Have you been listening to Walter Block?

The issue that arises is that legal blackmail increases the incentive for A to seek out embarrassing/damaging info about B. Though you might say that, in turn, B may then be less likely to do things that would embarrass/damage his/her own reputation because he/she is concerned about legal blackmail.

The argument for it being legal is a good one -- I think better than the argument for it being illegal.
 

Brad Mojo

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https://www.theonion.com/fly-my-pretties-says-jeff-bezos-releasing-swarm-of-1832469973

‘Fly, My Pretties,’ Says Jeff Bezos Releasing Swarm Of Amazon Drones To Hunt Down Nude Photos
Friday 1:44pm


MEDINA, WA—Standing on the roof of his towering estate as the tiny machines buzzed all around him, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly set loose hundreds of Prime Air drones Friday to hunt down and retrieve the nude photos of him obtained by the National Enquirer. “Take your army and bring them back to me!” cackled Bezos, who is said to have thrown his arms into the air as the sky darkened and the motorized swarm tore across the land, tearing phones from people’s hands, destroying computers, and clawing out the eyes of anyone who may have seen the intimate “below the belt” images. “Grant no quarter to those who have gazed upon my hallowed member. Now, fly! Fly!” At press time, sources confirmed the drones had dumped the nude photos of several hundred thousand Americans on the CEO’s balcony.
 

SaintsFan11

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It's a matter of public policy, like laws defining interest rates as usurious once they reach a certain level. You're limiting the freedom of people to contract, but certain circumstances naturally give rise to predation of a type that is not acceptable from a societal standpoint. The relative bargaining power of the extortioner vis-a-vis the extortionee is too far out of kilter.
 

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The Jeff Bezos thread on the PDB along with a podcast I heard recently had me thinking about blackmail in general. Why is it illegal?

The act of blackmail combines a request for something of value in exchange for doing or not doing something.
Now if both of these things are legal, why would combining the 2 things make it illegal?

Example:
Blackmailer requests $50 in exchange for not revealing embarrassing knowledge about the person being blackmailed.

Now the act of requesting money is not illegal. The act of releasing true information about someone (assuming it was attained legally) is also not illegal. So why is the combination illegal?
I am not saying that it is moral, but I don't see how this should be a legal violation.

Blackmail may also give the person being blackmailed more options than they would normally have had.
Example 1:
A has embarrassing information about B. A does not really like B to begin with and would receive pleasure in releasing this information about B.
In this case B has no options, and A can release the information that B does not want released.

Example 2:
A has embarrassing information about B. A does not really like B to begin with and would receive pleasure in releasing this information about B, but would receive more pleasure in $50 that B is willing to give in exchange for A not releasing the info.
In this case B and A are both now better off due to an agreement that B pays A $50. If blackmail was not illegal, they could have a contract for this interaction where if A did release the information anyway, A would owe B some agreed upon compensation.

This is also different from extortion where someone would be asking for something of value in exchange for not acting in a violent or destructive manner towards someone's person or property. In that case the 2nd action is already illegal.
Example:
Extortionist requests $50 or he will burn the other's store down.
So every time person A wants 50 dollars..............he can just remind person B of what he knows, and continue repeating the cycle? And the whole deal about "well they could have a contract" is silly......because Person C would somehow magically find out about it (and good luck proving it was A who told him)...........and suddenly the process continues.....likely with A getting a "finder's fee" from C. And later can come D and E....

Some discussions really don't need to be discussions.
 

Andrus

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A little off topic. I get a blackmail email about once a week from someone spoofing my email address. The supposed hacker/s state that they hacked into my mobile device and camera and recorded me doing some naughty things while viewing some really naughty things, so I only have a certain amount of time to put an amount ($750 - $2000 depending on the supposed hacker) worth of bitcoins into some numbered account before they release their supposedly embarrassing info to both the internet and my contact list, as well.

I am getting pretty tired of waiting for those blackmailers to release my porn debut.
 

brandon8283

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A little off topic. I get a blackmail email about once a week from someone spoofing my email address. The supposed hacker/s state that they hacked into my mobile device and camera and recorded me doing some naughty things while viewing some really naughty things, so I only have a certain amount of time to put an amount ($750 - $2000 depending on the supposed hacker) worth of bitcoins into some numbered account before they release their supposedly embarrassing info to both the internet and my contact list, as well.

I am getting pretty tired of waiting for those blackmailers to release my porn debut.
Turn the tables. Demand that they release the video immediately or pay you $750.
 

LonghornSaint

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This is also different from extortion where someone would be asking for something of value in exchange for not acting in a violent or destructive manner towards someone's person or property. In that case the 2nd action is already illegal.
Example:
Extortionist requests $50 or he will burn the other's store down.
No, it is all extortion. I have my current employer as well as potential employers email addresses in my contacts list, so if incriminatating evidence were to be released upon my non-payment, my current job status as well as my future potential job status could be damaged. Destructive doesn't have to be limited to pure physical means.
 
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tomwaits

tomwaits

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No, it is all extortion. I have my current employer as well as potential employers email addresses in my contacts list, so if incriminatating evidence were to be released upon my non-payment, my current job status as well as my future potential job status could be damaged. Destructive doesn't have to be limited to pure physical means.
But it would be perfectly legal for them to release that information that costs you your job if they didn't try to blackmail you.
Are you saying that should be illegal? People can't tell truth about someone if it can be damaging to that persons life?
 

mjcouvi

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No, it is all extortion. I have my current employer as well as potential employers email addresses in my contacts list, so if incriminatating evidence were to be released upon my non-payment, my current job status as well as my future potential job status could be damaged. Destructive doesn't have to be limited to pure physical means.
The difference between extortion and blackmail, if I'm not mistaken, is that extortion involves the threat of some illegal activity (burning someone's business down, physical violence, slander, etc.). Blackmail is a threat to do something that would be completely legal notwithstanding the threat (releasing embarrassing photos or other damaging, but true, information).
 

guidomerkinsrules

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But it would be perfectly legal for them to release that information that costs you your job if they didn't try to blackmail you.
Are you saying that should be illegal? People can't tell truth about someone if it can be damaging to that persons life?
it's a good/interesting question
i'm sure there's either a common sense or a highly convoluted legal argument answering this - but i can't think of what it is atm
 

mjcouvi

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So every time person A wants 50 dollars..............he can just remind person B of what he knows, and continue repeating the cycle? And the whole deal about "well they could have a contract" is silly......because Person C would somehow magically find out about it (and good luck proving it was A who told him)...........and suddenly the process continues.....likely with A getting a "finder's fee" from C. And later can come D and E....

Some discussions really don't need to be discussions.
I think you're missing that B isn't forced to pay anything. At any point B can just say "screw it" and let A release the embarrassing info and be done with it. Your argument is that B should not even have the legal opportunity to negotiate. The idea that a contract would likely arise from such a situation is not at all silly. If it were legal, of course contracts would arise and be enforceable.

Perhaps it would go as you say and C, D, etc. would attempt to get info from A for a finder's fee, but then A is doing something illegal (assuming a contract between A and B). Additionally, the contract would prevent A from repeating the cycle of blackmail.

It is an interesting discussion.
 

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