|06-18-2007, 12:30 AM||#1|
Tebowing the long haul
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: TX, USA
U.S. Internet defamation suit tests online anonymity
Sat Jun 16, 2007 9:25AM EDT
By Jason Szep
BOSTON (Reuters) - It bills itself as the world's "most prestigious college discussion board," giving a glimpse into law school admissions policies, post-graduate social networking and the hiring practices of major law firms.
But the AudoAdmit site, widely used by law students for information on schools and firms, is also known as a venue for racist and sexist remarks and career-damaging rumors.
Now it's at the heart of a defamation lawsuit that legal experts say could test the anonymity of the Internet.
After facing lewd comments and threats by posters, two women at Yale Law School filed a suit on June 8 in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Connecticut, that includes subpoenas for 28 anonymous users of the site, which has generated more than 7 million posts since 2004.
According to court documents, a user on the site named "STANFORDtroll" began a thread in 2005 seeking to warn Yale students about one of the women in the suit, entitled "Stupid b**** to Enter Yale Law." Another threatened to rape and sodomize her, the documents said.
The plaintiff, a respected Stanford University graduate identified only as "Doe I" in the lawsuit, learned of the Internet attack in the summer of 2005 before moving to Yale in Connecticut. The posts gradually became more menacing.
Some posts made false claims about her academic record and urged users to warn law firms, or accused her of bribing Yale officials to gain admission and of forming a lesbian relationship with a Yale administrator, the court papers said.
The plaintiff said she believes the harassing remarks, which lasted nearly two years, cost her an important summer internship. After interviewing with 16 firms, she received only four call-backs and ultimately had zero offers -- a result considered unusual given her qualifications.
LIFTING THE MASK
"The harassment they were subjected to was quite grotesque," said Brian Leiter, a professor at University of Texas Law School. "Any judge who looks at this is going to be really shocked, and particularly shocked because these appear to be law students."
The suit is being watched closely to see if the posters are unmasked, a step that could make anonymous chat room users more circumspect. It also underlines the growing difficulty of protecting reputations online as the Web is used increasingly to screen prospective employees and romantic partners.
"They can't hide behind anonymity while they are saying these scurrilous and menacing things," said Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles.
He said the site was not liable under federal protections that are more lenient on Web sites than TV and newspapers. Prosecuting the manager could also be difficult because he did not write the posts, Volokh added. But the anonymous posters look liable and their careers could be jeopardized, he said.
"This ought to be a warning to be people that if you say things that are not just rude but arguably libelous and potentially threatening and perhaps actionable on those grounds then their identity might be unmasked," he said.
Finding and identifying the posters -- including one called "The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rollah" -- could be tough but is not impossible. The process involves subpoenas issued to Internet Service Providers for records, and then more subpoenas to companies, institutions or people identified on those records.
"I've said in my blog the most vile posters on that board are two subpoenas away from being outed," said Leiter. "This led to much amusement by the anonymous posters on the board.
"But they are about to find out that this is how it works."
|06-18-2007, 12:42 AM||#2|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Phoenix, AZ
There's just so much trash in the US, where do you start? And I was refering to the losers who post things such as a person needs to be raped and what not. They are a plague to society and it's been that way since early man or adam and eve, which ever way you want to go. I'm afraid the trash will alway be with us but as long as there are good people, we always take the trash out eventually. Sometimes it just takes to where the trash stinks so bad you can no longer ignore it and you take it out to the dump, where it belongs.
|06-18-2007, 01:18 AM||#3|
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Awesome. Love to see cowards get what's coming to them. We've had plenty of needle***** on this site going after people's kids, making threats, etc. Naturally, these are the types that would never have the guts to do anything in real life.
Talking a little crap is one thing, getting personal and threatening is another. Glad the issue is being looked at.
|06-18-2007, 01:27 AM||#4|
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Provo, Utah
Some people online really cross the line sometimes. Making threats online is pretty lame, knowing full well if someone showed up to youre home you would run like a b****. But i believe strongly in getting child predators off the net and streets. Do whatever is takes to make this happen within the lines of the law.
|06-18-2007, 02:25 AM||#5|
YES A DT!!!!!!
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: From Calgary, in Halifax for School