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The CDA Is Dead, But States Are Trying To Revive It

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the free-speech-vs.-anonymity dept.

Privacy 205

oliphaunt writes "This week at The Legality, Tracy Frazier has an article discussing the damage that can be done by anonymous online comments. While regulars here are familiar with infamous bits of Net censorship like the Fishman Affidavit fiasco, and everyone has been an anonymous coward at least once or twice, some of you may not know about the conflict between Heide Iravani and AutoAdmit.com. Heide eventually filed a lawsuit because the first result for a Google search on her name brought up anonymous comments on AutoAdmit that accused her of carrying an STD and sleeping her way to the top of her class. The Communications Decency Act was supposed to prevent this kind of thing, but an injunction prevented it from ever being enforced and eventually the Supreme Court killed it. Should the law be changed?" The article links to a proposal from last summer in the New Jersey legislature that would institute a DMCA-like takedown regime for allegedly defamatory content posted on a Web site, and would allow aggrieved parties to demand the identity of anonymous posters without a subpoena. No indication of how that proposal fared. Also linked is a recent North Carolina proposal that would criminalize the act of defaming someone using an electronic medium. This proposal shields Web sites from liability and explicitly does not apply to anonymous speech.

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FROSTY PIST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27024795)

Frosty Pist!

Re:FROSTY PIST (-1, Offtopic)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27024807)

You have been out in the cold far too long....

Good news and bad news (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025623)

Bad news:
Free speech on the Internet is dead.

Good news:
Heide Iravani will sleep with anyone! So, geeks of the world: get your clean t-shirt out of the closet (or at least the one that hasn't got Mountain Dew stains down the front), comb that long hair down (no need to break your yearly washing cycle though), and get it while she's hot!*

* Anonymous Coward will not take responsibility for any awkwardness, erectile dysfunction or venereal diseases caught during sex with that woman.

Re:FROSTY PIST (3, Funny)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025935)

My real name happens to be Frosty Pist. Slashdot shall be hearing from my lawyers - for the tone of your post was quite derogatory and I am offended.

Criminalise? (5, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27024819)

Defamation should be a civil matter.

Re:Criminalise? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27024981)

The problem is that the average person isn't going to have the proper resources to actually get anything done about it. Pick someone who doesn't know how internet tech works, plaster a load of life-ruining "facts" about them online, and get them ranked to the top of google. For many people, doing this to them could literally ruin the rest of their life, removing any ability to land a proper career.

While censorship is horrible, there needs to be proper channels to go through that are guaranteed to land lightning fast results for the people that truly need them. We're now in an age where what can be googled about you is more important in an employer's decision than anything you or your resume conveys.

Either way, corporations will NEVER, EVER, EVEEEER stop using the internet as a way to screen. "Company image" is a top priority for every business, second only to money/profit. Especially when it comes to publicly traded companies, image is everything, and there is absolutely ZERO room for negotiation when it comes to an employee's personal life potentially tainting the company's image.

Just another reason why capitalism fails. The public-facing side of any single company is considered far more important than the life of any individual. Way to go mankind.

Re:Criminalise? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025051)

What we really need is a barrage of these cases, so that people understand how information on the internet works. The problem isn't that information can be published anonymously. The problem is that people put too much weight on completely unsubstantiated rumors and trivial misbehaviors.

Re:Criminalise? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025133)

Yeah, pretty much this exactly.

Done properly (use TOR, pick "targets" entirely at random, MASSIVE number of "targets" (probably at minimum 10k or so) and make it pretty much impossible to track a real person to blame) and you could get this to be a large enough noise source that corporations couldn't rely on internet searches for employee information any more.

Hmmm... Might want to modify that random - make sure about 25-50% of mid and upper level executives of all companies in the fortune 1k are included.

Who wants to get the /b/tards started on this?

Re:Criminalise? (2, Informative)

spartacus_prime (861925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025745)

4chan is not your personal army.

Re:Criminalise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025917)

Who wants to get the /b/tards started on this?

Go post it. I'm sure if you spam it steadily enough, you'll get critical mass with the white-knight-fags.

Re:Criminalise? (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026053)

Yeah, we need a mob! Then we can pillage, burn, and rape without consequence. We need to show those that would try to enforce the law that we won't stand for it!

Re:Criminalise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025483)

I heard steve jobs is in a comma

Re:Criminalise? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025695)

You misheard. He's in a period.

Re:Criminalise? (3, Funny)

imadoofus (233751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026039)

Perhaps his head is up his colon?

Re:Criminalise? (1, Funny)

Rip Dick (1207150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026063)

Too bad all the apple fanboi's kissing his ass caused it to erode... now he only has a semicolon.

Re:Criminalise? (5, Insightful)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025193)

"Just another reason why capitalism fails. The public-facing side of any single company is considered far more important than the life of any individual. Way to go mankind."

Whoa hold on there. I was in agreement with everything you said up until this last paragraph.

Capitalism isn't "business rules". It's private ownership of property (and capital in general, hence "capitalism"). How does you being able to own your own land and property have anything to do with what you were bitching about ?

In capitalism every single individual is both a producer and consumer. Even if you just hold a "9 - 5" you sell your labour in exchange for a mutually-agreed-upon paycheck. It's a voluntary exchange. Capitalism also applies just as well to bartering your labour to a friend in exchange for a couple of beers and hospitality for the day. This is all as opposed to socialism in which the government controls all of the means of exchange and production. Where two individuals are not allowed to enter into a voluntary exchange without the government's approval.

What you pointed out is that, in this case we have a problem with the JUDICIAL system. Whereby it takes far too long, and is too costly, for an individual to seek justice against someone who anonymously did them harm. How does that relate to capitalism at all ? You're complaining about a GOVERNMENT institution. So what's your solution, get the government involved in EVERYTHING ? Yeah that will fix the problem! /sarc (please note that I'm most certainly not saying that we should privatize the judicial system, only that the problem here has nothing to do with private ownership of capital and the means of production).

If the justice is more easily attainable for the rich, then we need to fix the judicial system. The judicial system has never been private. It's always been government-run. So why should the rich be able to afford justice more than a poor person ? It has nothing to do with business, and it shouldn't. None of these problems have anything to do with capitalism.

Re:Criminalise? (2, Insightful)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025243)

Whoa hold on there. I was in agreement with everything you said up until "This is all as opposed to socialism in which the government controls all of the means of exchange and production."

I believe the word you were looking for is "communism" not "socialism". Socialism is, on many formulations (it is quite a vague term) compatible with a market economy.

Re:Criminalise? (4, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025269)

In capitalism every single individual is both a producer and consumer.

No, in capitalism, the capitalist class skims off the labor of producers by charging them for access to the resources that capitalists "own" and producers need to get stuff done.

This is all as opposed to socialism in which the government controls all of the means of exchange and production.

No, socialism is a system based on the exchange of labor and the democratic control of capital. State socialism, as practiced by Marxists, is not the only variety. Anarchists are socialists.

Even if you just hold a "9 - 5" you sell your labour in exchange for a mutually-agreed-upon paycheck. It's a voluntary exchange.

No arrangement made in the face of an overwhelming imbalance of power is "voluntary". So long as a state-backed minority class of "owners" controls the vast majority of economic resources, referring to the wage slavery that all but the most skilled workers have to sell themselves into as "voluntary" is a sick joke.

Re:Criminalise? (3, Insightful)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025617)

"No, in capitalism, the capitalist class skims off the labor of producers by charging them for access to the resources that capitalists "own" and producers need to get stuff done."

How can you own labour if you can't own people ? How can you have a "class" of capitalists when everyone is able to own property ? (and note: I'm not talking about land and capital goods, specifically. Even my daughters owns capital - clothes, toys, cash etc.).

The only way that your sentence can apply is in a system of serfdom. Which is not capitalism, because the common man does not have the right to own land. In capitalism everyone owns some property. Even if you're holding cash, you "own" that cash (which is just another economic good) until you trade it for something else. In capitalism, everyone is a capitalist. So while we do have economic classes (which is unavoidable in any system), there is no "class" of capitalists. Even the poorest of the poor, who we may say own zero capital because they're homeless and naked, can still barter their labour or rely on the temporary charity of others to acquire a limited amount of capital and go from there.

"No, socialism is a system based on the exchange of labor and the democratic control of capital. State socialism, as practiced by Marxists, is not the only variety. Anarchists are socialists."

You'll have to elaborate because "democratic control of capital" reads as being another way to say "state control of capital". Just because a government is democratic by nature, does not make it a "non-state".

"No arrangement made in the face of an overwhelming imbalance of power is "voluntary". So long as a state-backed minority class of "owners" controls the vast majority of economic resources, referring to the wage slavery that all but the most skilled workers have to sell themselves into as "voluntary" is a sick joke."

You can not have wage slavery without debt. And I will be the first person to agree that the current hodge-podge hybrid system of fiat currency, government regulation and special interest lobbying makes that a much closer reality than I am comfortable with. However, the only thing that has to do with capitalism is based on the fact that the foundation of our system is capitalist in nature. It's certainly anything but laissez-faire. We haven't had "true", or laissez-faire, capitalism in a very long time. At least not since prior to 1913.

I think you just made my point for me, actually. You said "state-backed minority class of 'owners'". Thus you know damned well that what you are describing is not laissez-faire capitalism. We have some socialism (government-run post office is a good example, and a lot of public property), various forms of intervention (trade barriers in the form of tariffs, real-estate regulation, licensure requirements and special treatment for labour unions) and a debt-based fiat currency that's controlled by a single, secretive independent organization with lots of special privileges that are unique to it (I'm talking about the federal reserve for anyone who isn't following).

In laissez-faire capitalism employment options open up much more than they are in our current messed up system. That's not to say that everyone would have access to their dream job. But involuntary unemployment becomes much rarer.

Yet even in our system, all employment contracts are voluntary. That doesn't mean that people don't have to work to survive, but that will be the case in any system. Every single human being prefers leisure to labour. So in a make-believe system where no one has to work production and technological progress will grind to a halt. Capitalism, more specifically laissez-faire capitalism, is simply private ownership of property and voluntary exchange. It's the distribution of labour without any controlling force influencing the way that people chose to distribute said labour. It's people who work together, via agreements, when both parties perceive a benefit to the agreement. The only way that you can have slavery, even wage slavery, is when there is a presence of force. In modern times that force is almost always the government.

Rent seeking (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026083)

How can you have a "class" of capitalists when everyone is able to own property ?

It's possible if only members of the upper class have a reasonable chance of bootstrapping themselves into owning enough property to get anything done.

The only way that you can have slavery, even wage slavery, is when there is a presence of force. In modern times that force is almost always the government.

Unless the upper class applies force through said government. This is called rent seeking [wikipedia.org] and regulatory capture [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Criminalise? (0, Troll)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026007)

You... don't know anyting about politics, economics, or history, do you? I suggest you go to any local library, get some books, and read up on the matter.

Nothing you just posted has any relation to actual fact or realitiy - I won't assume you're lying, out of respect, but I do know you're at least ignorant - and ignorance is easily cured, with a little effort on your part.

being partly privatized is the problem (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025293)

While the judges themselves are employees of the government, most of the judicial apparatus is private, and operates under a market system. Suspect that your rights are being violated, but aren't quite sure what bit of legislation applies? Hire someone knowledgeable in the law to tell you. Need to file paperwork in a trial, but want to be sure that you did it correctly, and didn't miss something that could be important to your case? Hire someone who specializes in drafting legal papers to draft them for you. That's basically how a private market economy works: if you want something done that you can't do yourself, you hire someone to do it. However, there's a good case for making anything related to justice less privatized, in my opinion, as this tends to mean that the people who can afford to hire good consultants (lawyers) tend to get better results.

Re:Criminalise? (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025355)

"Capitalism isn't "business rules". It's private ownership of property (and capital in general, hence "capitalism"). How does you being able to own your own land and property have anything to do with what you were bitching about ?"

Communism isn't "the Party rules". It's the idea that property should be common in stead of private.

But in reality, communism means "the Party rules" and capitalism means "business rules".

Re:Criminalise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025549)

Please, you guys seem to mistake capitalism for the system we have today. What we have today is a quasi-capitalist system. Big Business and other entrenched industries get special treatment from the Government while small businesses have to play by the rules of capitalism with a severe disposition. You can thank back room deals and corruption for what you see as "business rules". People should be able to go into small business without having to jump through hoops and getting taxed a shitload while the nice comfortable businesses get to draft legislation, pad congress's pockets and find nice tax loopholes. There is nothing worse than a nanny state partnered with big business. Everyone loses.

Re:Criminalise? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025263)

What are you going to do if the site was hosted out of state by a company with no physical assets in your state? Or on an overseas site, by an overseas company? Google doesn't discriminate based on location unless your search specifically requests it, but it is outside any legal jurisdiction you have access to? Are you going to go to Canada to press a case?

We don't need laws and we don't need this sort of thing presented as an excuse for socialism, we need people that aren't so stupid and recognize that things posted on the internet often aren't true.

Re:Criminalise? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025435)

"Company image" is a top priority for every business, second only to money/profit. Especially when it comes to publicly traded companies, image is everything, and there is absolutely ZERO room for negotiation when it comes to an employee's personal life potentially tainting the company's image.

"Hey, we believe what any anonymous moron writes on the internet!"

How's that for a public image? These people should be ridiculed, at least.

Or send them for some reeducation on /b/. Let's see what they think of anonymous comments afterwards.

that's no reason to criminalize (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025639)

The problem is that the average person isn't going to have the proper resources to actually get anything done about it.

Then allow them to recover sufficient damages and penalties in civil court. You'll get plenty of lawyers lining up to take such cases on commission. There is no need to criminalize it.

Just another reason why capitalism fails.

By what bizarre reasoning do you connect capitalism with libel laws? Yes, you might face legal problems when saying something bad about a company in the US, but you can defend yourself and you still have a lot more freedom to do so than in any other form of government or economic system that has existed on this planet.

I mean, what do you propose instead? A centrally planned economy? Barter?

Re:Criminalise? (3, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025019)

Defamation should be a civil matter.

Not only that, but I can hardly see what relevance her sex life has in that forum, especially if the information is hearsay.

Any forum moderator or website operator should have the common decency to recognize a troll and delete the offending material if you can show, with good intentions, that it's more detrimental to you for that false information to be there than it is positive for them to keep it....

In the end, you should never have to legislate good taste, but for fuck's sake, it'd be nice for more people to have it as well... TFS and TFA certainly paint it as being that black and white, but perhaps that's not the case, and that's why you need a lawsuit.

Google != Background check. Sigh.

Re:Criminalise? (0)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025357)

It's in print, therefore it's libel technically.

Re:Criminalise? (2, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025451)

What's your point? Defamation is a general term to cover slander and libel, both of which are and should remain torts rather than offences.

Re:Criminalise? (4, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025365)

And opinion should be neither. ( which is where this is headed ultimately, to restrict you from expressing your opinion, unless its an 'approved' opinion )

Re:Criminalise? (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026097)

Slander isn't an opinion. This article is not about someone's opinion, nor about the freedom to express an opinion. It is about the ability to slander without fear of consequence. Well even more than that, it also extends to the difficulty for someone to protect themselves from online abuse like this.

Imagine someone posted that you were a pedophile, that you hoarded large quantities of child pornography, and that you raped young children. What do you do after the hoster of this content ignores your request to have it removed? What happens if the poster of this content ignores your request to remove it? What happens when your lawyer says you can only seek punitive damages?

I'll tell you what happens, it stays up, for the whole world to see [theflatearthsociety.org] .

true if you want it to be (-1, Flamebait)

johnjones (14274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27024823)

I dont live in the USA

so Heide Iravani slept her way to the top

lets see what google ranking slashdot gets...

john

Re:true if you want it to be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27024863)

what's her website number?

Re:true if you want it to be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025181)

Do you mean her website's address? Perhaps you mean her phone number?

All Regulation does is grant undue Legitimacy (5, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 5 years ago | (#27024875)

If people know that "bad" comments are taken off the Internet, and the Government is there to protect us, then the Government is giving weight to everything that's out there. Unfortunately, the Government can't take down every bad thing out there. Net result is that the effort to protect people just makes things worse. As long as the Government keeps its hands off, and people understand that there is no Thought Police on the Internet, then they will be dismissive of most unsubstantiated anonymous claims, and they can cause no harm. Legislators, please take the day off on this one. Everybody will be better off.

Re:All Regulation does is grant undue Legitimacy (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025003)

Unfortunately, the Government can't take down every bad thing out there.

Some of us consider that a good thing.

Re:All Regulation does is grant undue Legitimacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025533)

Unfortunately, the Government can't take down every bad thing out there.

Also, and this is not an attack on you personally, but 'the government' in the article and in your post assumes the US government. Good luck asserting these laws in my country, where me and my server reside.

All this will achieve is less people renting servers in the US. Many organisations around the world already have a ban due to the Patriot Act, this is just going to seal the deal. Oh well, more money for other countries, with more freedom.

People aren't that bright. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026251)

What makes you think people "will be dismissive of most unsubstantiated anonymous claims"? People believe the face of Jesus appears on tortillas. People believe 9/11 was really caused by Israel to get the US fired up against the Muslim world. People will believe all kinds of nonsense.

It takes very little to trash a person's character online. Of course no employer will pay attention to "she's a slut!" But no employer can afford to ignore "he was given a suspended sentence for child endangerment in Knox County, Kentucky in 1987." Will they really going to call up the Knox county courthouse and check? Of course they won't. They'll just toss that resume in the trash and move on.

The Streissand Effect (3, Interesting)

kentrel (526003) | more than 5 years ago | (#27024895)

I didn't realise Heide Iravani might have had an STD until she fought so hard to stop people talking about it.

Considering something like 70% of people carry HPV the odds are in your favour that you're telling the truth whenever you say someone has an STD.

Selfish Slashdot (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025017)

I didn't realise Heide Iravani might have had an STD until she fought so hard to stop people talking about it.

Yes, but prior to this Slashdot story, you didn't even know Heide's name. On the other hand, current and possible future employers might do a Google search and find this, and well as potential love interests. Posts like the ones that Heide is upset about may not bother typical Slashdotters, but we have very thick skin here. Heide should be able to this type of harassment, as it significantly impacts her life.

Re:Selfish Slashdot (5, Insightful)

TreyGeek (1391679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025103)

My question is, how can you be sure that the information that Google provides is actually about the person you searched for?

When performing a Google search on my name (first and last in quotes) I can make out at least three different people on the first page. Which one is me? Which one is the chemist? And which one is the guy who died on a passenger ship in the first half of the 1900s? I know the answer, but how would anyone else?

So, maybe there is a Heide Iravani who has an STD and slept her way to the top. But it may be about a different Heide Iravani than the one who is filing a lawsuit.

You can't trust Google to provide you the information on an exact person.

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025211)

I imagine prospective employers will assume you are still alive. And they can probably tell by your unemployment and the qualifications on your CV whether you are/were a chemist or not.

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025343)

My question is, how can you be sure that the information that Google provides is actually about the person you searched for?

When performing a Google search on my name (first and last in quotes) I can make out at least three different people on the first page. Which one is me? Which one is the chemist? And which one is the guy who died on a passenger ship in the first half of the 1900s? I know the answer, but how would anyone else?

Just to riff a little bit on your point - a friend of mine has started using (abusing?) these name collisions. When required to identify himself on forms and whatnot, he uses his real name. But, he's got a list of people with the exact same name from all around the country and he usually picks one and uses their details. The name thing will cover him if someone demands an ID in person, but if he has problems with data leakage, it ends up being some other John Doe's data that gets leaked.

So, in your example, my friend would probably be and not be all three of those guys on the first page of google.

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025455)

I forgot to mention - it is really easy to get the necessary details from websites like www.pipl,com,

Re:Selfish Slashdot (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025671)

What a dick.

If he was making the other people up, no problem. Impersonating (for any reason) a real person is bullshit.

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026193)

If he was making the other people up, no problem. Impersonating (for any reason) a real person is bullshit.

I tend to agree. But the real problem is with the information leakers.
If they didn't break trust, nobody would have any problems (and there would be no incentive to do what he does either).

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025371)

My question is, how can you be sure that the information that Google provides is actually about the person you searched for?

And the answer to your question is, you can't, but it doesn't matter.

Have you ever blown an interview? where you were the best candidate for the job, but just screwed up or maybe life happened that day? Maybe that's the day have a car accident on the way in that makes you late or you get news that a close relative has died and your shaken up? And it ruins your 'first impression'. Whether you show up or call to reschedule either way you've already tainted your first impression and they may pass on you... sure maybe you are really a very conscientious individual... or maybe your 'that guy who's always late with outlandish excuses and drama'. They can't be bothered to find out... the impression was made, and the candidates are lined up out the door. Next please. Its simpler and less risky.

Same thing with the internet. If they find negative information about someone who shares your name, will they bother to see if its 'really you' or not? Its not worth the hassle if candidates are lined up out the door. They'll shortlist the ones that meet the requirements that make a good impression and that include not being potentially linked to some internet fiasco.

Re:Selfish Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025471)

It's not a good idea to base a decision on irrelevant data. It unnecessarily limits your options. In the case of the job interview, such rigorous exclusion only works as long as there are people left who are a) any good and b) don't have too many namesakes and c) don't have something embarrassing posted about them on the internet. Soon it'll be like hiring the guy in the expensive suit, you know, the guy who screams success. Unfortunately you'll later find that his resume has received as much styling as himself. A person with no drunk party pictures on the net probably had them removed by a professional image counseling service.

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025681)

It's not a good idea to base a decision on irrelevant data. It unnecessarily limits your options.

What do you think going through a stack of resume's to make a shortlist for interviews is? Its a deliberate process of limiting your options until you have a manageable number.

If I've got 40 suitable resumes and want to interview 10 people, I have to eliminate 30 names. If google pulls up a hit of people in the area with one of them doing heroin, that's one down. 29 to go. If another is some fundy-nutbar denouncing gays... 28 to go. It doesn't really matter if its the right person... I need to knock 30 names of the list. And this is 'potentially relevant' data. It beats picking names at random.

When you've got too many options and you have narrow it down: using "potentially irrelevant data" is better than using "using no data at all".

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

winwar (114053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026005)

You could just throw 30 resumes away. That way you won't hire unlucky people.... :)

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026099)

You could just throw 30 resumes away. That way you won't hire unlucky people.... :)

I suppose. It worked for a certain Ringworld expedition...

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025417)

Which one is the chemist? And which one is the guy who died on a passenger ship in the first half of the 1900s? I know the answer, but how would anyone else?

Common sense?

But yes, it's a very questionable practice to use Google as a primary source for background checking.

As easy as it is is to anonymously libal someone on the Intertubes, so is it to create a false background. Information on The Tubes is only as accurate as its source...

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

tiananmen tank man (979067) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025495)

anyone else getting "Nose job" google ads for the serach term "Heide Iravani" lol

Re:Mistaken identity smearing (4, Interesting)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025567)

Yes I have been a victim of this. Some moron who shares my name is a moderately infamous white supremacist.

Needless to say he has a prominent wikipedia and google presence.

I have actually lost business due to this, as someone looked him up, thought it was about me, and wrote smearing emails about me to my client. I cleared it up with the client but the FUD damaged the relationship and no further business ensued. And who knows, maybe it has cost me job interviews as well.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, as they say.

Re:Selfish Slashdot (3, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025869)

"Which one is the chemist? And which one is the guy who died on a passenger ship in the first half of the 1900s? "

So, you're saying you faked your own death?

Re:Selfish Slashdot (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026105)

Heide should be able to this type of harassment

I accidentally the whole type of harassment.

Re:The Streissand Effect (1)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025227)

70% you say? You might want to notify the CDC. Their numbers [cdc.gov] are way off.

Re:The Streissand Effect (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025271)

On the other hand, even if she doesn't have an STD and didn't sleep her way to the top, it is amply clear to most people by now that she's an overly sensitive and litigious person who can't take a fallacious, malicious, and anonymous insult for what it is (i.e. a bunch of worthless name calling). I'd question the judgment of someone willing to pursue such a legal case rather than realizing it would pointlessly do more harm than good in terms of "clearing her good name". She's famous now.

On that basis I wouldn't hire her either.

The word that would come to mind is: trouble. Not because of any hearsay said about them, but because of their own well-documented legal actions. What were they *thinking*??? That they could expunge the web of people bad mouthing them?

Nobody should be able to issue a "takedown notice" (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27024907)

... for "allegedly" anything. They should be able to prove their case in court, or STFU.

While the current situation is not quite "prior restraint", it DOES have a chilling effect on free speech, in that speech can be censored by merely alleging that it is infringing something. That is wrong, plain and simple.

Re:Nobody should be able to issue a "takedown noti (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025113)

This is not about a slew of DMCA-style takedowns.

Everyone has a right to keep defamatory content out of the first 30 or so Google hits on their name. This is just basic.

Obviously, they still need to prove it's defamatory, but it is a problem.

Re:Nobody should be able to issue a "takedown noti (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025215)

That's what I was saying, so where's the problem?

If the statements are false (truth is an absolute defense against libel), then show that they are false, and get the statements removed. In that order. But allowing someone to censor speech on mere allegations of wrongdoing is itself wrong.

Re:Nobody should be able to issue a "takedown noti (1)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026139)

If the statements are false (truth is an absolute defense against libel)

Not in all countries. In fact that principle might be unique to the USA, not sure.

Re:Nobody should be able to issue a "takedown noti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025233)

Everyone has a right to keep defamatory content out of the first 30 or so Google hits on their name. This is just basic.

Obviously, they still need to prove it's defamatory, but it is a problem.

What if the content is factual? It might be defamatory, sure. But if someone has been a total douchebag sleazoid assclown to the point that the first couple of pages of search engine results are about what a total douchebag sleazoid assclown they are why should that be buried so that Mister or Mrs TDSA appears as pure as the driven snow?

Re:Nobody should be able to issue a "takedown noti (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025301)

Usually (not always, but usually) when someone says "defamatory" they mean libel or slander, which are by definition untrue statements. I think the assumption here is that we were talking about libel.

Re:Nobody should be able to issue a "takedown noti (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025965)

Everyone has a right to keep defamatory content out of the first 30 or so Google hits on their name. This is just basic.

No they don't and no one would dare dream about giving the president, for example, this benefit.

People don't get to decide what the results are of googling their name. Yes unfortunately things may come up but if a defamatory comment is true or holds some truth then why should that be hidden away? If it's false then yes you should be able to have it taken down (rather than shoved to the back of your search hits but you should be required to prove it's not true before it's taken down.

Re:Nobody should be able to issue a "takedown noti (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025129)

Jane Q. Public gave me AIDS.

To Anonymous Coward: (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025265)

See, now THAT is a libelous statement, and I can prove it. So you just committed a crime.

Of course it would be ludicrous to take your comment seriously. Nevertheless, if I wanted I could go to court, demonstrate (ridiculously easy to do) that I do not have AIDS, and not only have that statement removed, but probably also subpoena your IP address and whatever identity that leads to. If I really thought it worthwhile, you could have found yourself in deep shit.

Re:To Anonymous Coward: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025733)

See, now THAT is a libelous statement, and I can prove it. So you just committed a crime.

Of course it would be ludicrous to take your comment seriously. Nevertheless, if I wanted I could go to court, demonstrate (ridiculously easy to do) that I do not have AIDS, and not only have that statement removed, but probably also subpoena your IP address and whatever identity that leads to. If I really thought it worthwhile, you could have found yourself in deep shit.

He said you (or at least A JQPublic) gave him AIDS. Maybe you snuck into his bedroom at night and injected him with it. Can you prove you never did that, without knowing who he is?

Without his ID, you don't know where it was, so you can't just say "I was never there".

Crazy? Yes. Legal, also yes. Disprovable? No.

Re:To Anonymous Coward: (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025899)

I could certainly demonstrate it beyond a reasonable doubt. That is all that is required.

And were I able to subpoena the IP address (reasonably possible), I also might get a reasonable idea of who he/she is. Not proof in itself, but other circumstantial evidence could probably verify a few facts.

The fact that it is a crazy scenario really does bear on the situation. No reasonable judge or jury would reasonably believe such a story anyway... the claim is rather extraordinary. It would end up falling upon Anonymous to demonstrate the truth of his statement, if he/she wanted to avoid a decision of libel. And THAT would be difficult indeed.

I don't have to "disprove" in the logical or mathematical sense. I simply have to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt. And in a case like this, where the claim is so outrageous, I daresay it would be very easy to get a jury to believe I did not do it, beyond a "reasonable doubt".

And in those areas where it is a civil issue and not a criminal charge, I don't even need to do that. A preponderance of evidence is all that is necessary.

Re:To Anonymous Coward: (1)

dirk (87083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025995)

Jane Q. Public molests small children. She has an overwhelming desire to have sex with them and cannot control herself and has in fact had sex with children in the past.

Now, I think we can say this is libelous, but how exactly do you disprove it? You simply can't prove this statement false, because there isn't enough detail to it. This is why in libel cases, the speaker of the statement has to prove that the statement is true and not the other way around. The statement should be pulled (assuming it does meet the standards of libel is untrue) until the speaker proves it is a true statement.

Re:To Anonymous Coward: (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026163)

Unless you work for a large media network, and then an "anonymous source" should be sufficient to destroy someone.

Horrible idea (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27024921)

Doing this only legitimizes anonymous comments. People should be made aware that when someone says something online that does NOT mean it is true. So called "defamatory" speech should never be criminalized anyhow. At worse, it is a civil wrong.

Pretty much all online speech is anonymous. That which is not and involves a person saying something about another, they will already take down the offending content if they are made aware they are going to be sued and do not believe they can substantiate (i.e., defend) their comment because civil law does apply. So no new law is needed. These kinds of laws only help incompetent rich people anyways. They protect the aristocracy (mis)using the government's resources to keep their "reputations" clean. See countries outside the United States for example.

Something is needed (1)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 5 years ago | (#27024925)

As it stands, Section 230 of the CDA offers a more or less complete safe harbor immunity to any "provider of an interactive service" for law-infringing content, with copyright currently being the only exception.

I could care less about making it easier to out anonymous commentators, and in fact oppose any effort to make that easier. But on the other hand, illegal content is illegal content, and once a provider is notified that they are hosting illegal content, I have no objection with a requirement to take it down or assume liability for it.

Re:Something is needed (2, Insightful)

Carlosos (1342945) | more than 5 years ago | (#27024975)

The problem is the accusation of illegal content instead of proving to a court first that it is illegal.
Like pjt33 said, it should be a civil matter.

Re:Something is needed (1)

Chih (1284150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025981)

What if I (anonymously) slandered myself on your site, and then sued you for damages due to lost wages, prospects, etc... Not only would I be a huge burden and/or distraction to your site, but I could blame any TRUE slanderous material on "the people out to get me". Assume I use TOR, etc... at all times. Where is the incentive NOT to do this?

The obvious solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27024945)

Is to just insult people directly.

It's FAR more hurtful!

Re:The obvious solution... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025063)

just insult people directly.

It's FAR more hurtful!

Really?

Direct insult:
You: "You have AIDS, and are sleeping your way to the top."
Me: "Oh... k... then."
Life-altering damage: 0

Indirect insult:
You: "[my name] has AIDS and is sleeping his/her way to the top."
Potential employer 1: "We'll call you when we know."
Potential employer 2: "We can't risk hiring you. Of course, if you sue, we'll say you didn't have the skills we need."
Life-altering damage: no possibility of a decent career, may as well commit suicide.

Writing elected officials (2, Informative)

MrLint (519792) | more than 5 years ago | (#27024979)

In the 'Fisherman' link in this article it goes to an old story by CT, which links to the ACLU on tops for writing elected officials. That link is out of date, the updated link is http://www.aclu.org/files/gen/13516res20021209.html [aclu.org]

The greatest thing about anonymous posting (1)

Trikenstein (571493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025007)

is not having to smell the people your abusing.

But seriously, what with the way that skilled people can manipulate data, others assuming identities, the semi-secure networks.
We're just not there yet, where you can have 100 percent certainty your communicating who you think you are, or that a post was made by who they claim to be.
The cost of doing an audit trail has to be pretty expensive, and even then... you can't be sure.

CSI and NCIS aside someone with malevolent intent pretty much has free reign to a point against regular folks.
Whereas corporations and governments budget the expense of tracking and litigating.

Until we all have inserted chips to enable us to logon or some kind of biometric verification.
I can call Bob a poopoo head and Bob has to live with the possibility that someone will believe that he is a poopoo head.

Consider the source ... (4, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025039)

There is this concept called considering the source. If the poster is anonymous and makes claims without backing them up, then a person would have to be an idiot to ascribe any weight to them. Case closed.

idiots (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025507)

"then a person would have to be an idiot to ascribe any weight to them"..judging by the economic news over the past two years, you just described about 95% of business executives, including the people who hire and fire people. In fact the terms idiots and morons doesn't even come close, we really don't have any good description with a single noun to describe the sheer arrogance, incompetence and believing in the economic tooth fairy that has gone on now with these business "elite" folks.

    And this therefore makes it a serious problem, one of many right now because of those people.

  The economy is tanking hard, and for the most part, the same megagreedidiots who caused all the mess are *still in charge* making decision after decision. And the bigger the idiot, the more they are getting bailed out by putting the tax payers in debt for the next 50 years (some big number).

Re:Consider the source ... (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025593)

There is this concept called considering the source.

Yes there is. Until the world at large does it, however, its not going to help.

If the poster is anonymous and makes claims without backing them up, then a person would have to be an idiot to ascribe any weight to them.

So everyone on the planet (except you and me of course) are idiots. That's not going to help much though, since all the idiots around us make tons of decisions that directly affect us.

Case closed.

Not until we get rid of the idiots. I wouldn't hold my breath.

One question (0, Flamebait)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025047)

does this Heide Iravani pretty much sleep with anybody in order to get to the top? If so, I would like to interview her...

Re:One question (0, Offtopic)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025115)

Where would that get her? Out of the basement?

Re:One question (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025687)

Why not just visit a whore? They'll sleep their way to a sandwich (or 10).

2319! 2319! (1)

knightf0x (218696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025049)

Oh no..not the CDA!

Stupid Question, Stupid Answer (1)

Zero_DgZ (1047348) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025095)

Anonymous speech should be specifically protected on the web, end of story. Full stop. No debate. Anyone in any position of power who thinks otherwise should be dragged out of office for positing such a stupid notion.

If someone wants to complain anonymously about someone else it should equally be that person's right (not to mention responsibility) to publicly refute any claims they disagree with. There's no sense in whining about a search engine coming up with "undesirable" things about you -- get off your lard butt and post some information that IS desirable about yourself, if it bothers you so damn much. Otherwise, realise that people other than you are going to take hateful anonymous comments on the Internet at exactly face value: Namely, zero. Or close to it.

Re:Stupid Question, Stupid Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025197)

Anonymous posting is the only geek safeguard! They can't take it from us! When we had to express our opinions publicly, in high school and middle school, the big bullies, the ones that used to date the hottest cheerleaders, came and beat us to a pulp and got our lunch money. So we need anonymity, is the only protection we have against the bad world outside our momma's basement!!!
But we going to be extinct soon anyways, not only because we don't reproduce but because Warren Buffet said we are the ones to blame for the World economic crisis: "Our advice: Beware of geeks bearing formulas...", he said...

Then only Americans will be able to lie (3, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025419)

You forget that the rest of the world does not share the US attitude, rightly or wrongly, and that there are a lot more of them. And you don't know the principle of ethics that says, in effect, "the right of your fist stops at my nose". Why should I have to defend myself against lies? There has to be a remedy for them. Your argument can ultimately be extended to "anybody should be allowed to fire a gun at me anonymously, it's my responsibility to protect myself." At what point on the spectrum between anonymous hate speech and anonymous attempts at murder should the state step in?

In the real world, if I were to post anonymously that Zero_DGZ is a pedophile who visits Thailand to frequent child brothels, there are other anonymous idiots who would read this and post it as news. Once a few hundred people posted this juicy bit of information, people would cease to note it was anonymous and think "Google says lots of people think that...", and before long you would get a visit from the FBI.

It may be that anonymous statements of opinion, as in "I think ZeroDgZ is sociopathic", should be protected, but statements presented as facts that are actually lies should not. Using anonymity to protect against suit for libel should also not be protected (it is illegal in many countries as regards print media at least).

As soon as anonymous posting is outlawed... (2, Funny)

know1 (854868) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025147)

Good luck, i'm behind seven proxies

I can't believe this woman. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025161)

Tracy Frazier gave me a handjob on a street corner for $5. The worst one I've ever gotten.

Anonymity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025303)

FTFA:

... everyone has been an anonymous coward at least once or twice, ...

Speak for yourself. I've never done that.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025393)

Hey you guys! Did you hear that Heide Iravani has an STD? It's true, because I read it on the Internet!

We already have laws to address this (1)

Loosifur (954968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025505)

I think that people get a little too excited whenever regular old actionable offenses happen in a room with a computer. Just because libel happens on the Internet doesn't make it any different for legal purposes than libel in any other medium. Neither does it elevate speech for it to occur on the Internet.

For example, an anonymous post on a web page regarding this chick and her alleged std situation is essentially the same as someone having spray-painted graffiti to that effect on the side of a building. Now, IANAL, but I believe that if the woman in question could prove that the graffiti had a negative effect on her reputation (I think the key is that she'd have to prove some sort of financial harm, like losing her job or something along those lines) AND was false, then the owner of the building would not only have to remove the graffiti but would probably also have to compensate her for her losses.

The only way it would be criminal is if the poster posted something with the intent to provoke a criminal act against the woman in question, like posting her address and license plates on westealcars.org or something like that.

Re:We already have laws to address this (1)

Rastl (955935) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026077)

For example, an anonymous post on a web page regarding this chick and her alleged std situation is essentially the same as someone having spray-painted graffiti to that effect on the side of a building. Now, IANAL, but I believe that if the woman in question could prove that the graffiti had a negative effect on her reputation (I think the key is that she'd have to prove some sort of financial harm, like losing her job or something along those lines) AND was false, then the owner of the building would not only have to remove the graffiti but would probably also have to compensate her for her losses.

Why should the owner of a building that was vandalized have anything to do with compensating the woman? They're a victim of an actual crime - vandalism. So as the victim they're responsible for the crime?

Analogy fail. Try putting it into an automobile reference.

CDA isn't dead (5, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025581)

Let me correct a few misconceptions in the underlying article and the post. 1. The CDA isn't dead; it's alive and well and thriving. Only 2 constitutionally repugnant sections were struck down by the US Supreme Court. 2. They were struck down in 1997, not in 2007. 3. Communication on the internet is not the "wild west"; it is subject to the same laws as the rest of the world. If someone libels someone, they are held liable under the same principals. An anonymous libel is easier to trace on the internet than it would be in the brick and mortar world. 4. The suggestion that 'online slander' is an 'epidemic' is pure hype.

Re:CDA isn't dead (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026235)

I've been called a pedophile, a rapist, and a distributor of child pornography. Despite this being illegal, I've found it to be impossible to fight. The post is still there [theflatearthsociety.org] , available for anyone to read.

So I don't think it's alive and well and thriving. People shouldn't have to pay several grand to defend themselves per defamation. Since it's so easy to do, and so risk-free, I expect to read about Britney's bad mothering, and Jennifer's depression for a long long time.

none (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025603)

I post anonymously because making website accounts is a pain in the ass. I think the "Coward" title is really unnecessary. "Lazy bastard" would be better.

Why work for that kind of employer? (1)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026167)

If you were ever passed over for a position because of Internet search results, consider yourself lucky.

An employer who is going to base their hire/nohire decision on what they find in a Google search or a chat room is not the kind of employer you want to work for, trust me. If they're that petty and ignorant when it comes to staffing, imagine what the office politics and management style is going to be like! No thank you!

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