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The Story of Dealing With 33 Attorneys General

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the people-get-mad-on-the-internet dept.

The Courts 172

microbee writes "Early this year, Topix, a popular community forum, faced investigation from 33 state Attorneys General for the practice of charging a fee for 'expedited review' of content that was flagged as inappropriate. The case was settled on August 9th, with Topix dropping the fees in question. Now TechCrunch is running an article by Topix CEO Chris Tolles, in which he talks about his experiences dealing with so many Attorneys General. Quoting: 'This is going to happen more — The States' Attorneys General are the place that complaints about your company will probably end up. This is especially true if you host a social or community based site where people can post things that others may dislike. And, there's no downside to attacking a company based in California for these guys (MySpace, Facebook, Craigslist have all been targets in the past couple of years). Taking complaints from your citizenry and turning them into political capital is simply too good an opportunity for these guys to pass up.'"

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172 comments

first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33326726)

i'd like to see an attourney general remove this post

Re:first post (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328010)

Sure.

Anyway, should it read "33 Attorney Generals"? Plural is in the wrong word.

OP there is no 'u' in attorney too. ;)

Re:first post (4, Informative)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328142)

"Attorneys General" is correct. This is because English is f'd up.

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/compounds.htm [commnet.edu]

Re:first post (4, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328650)

No, it's because we're referring to 33 attorneys, not 33 generals. You modify the basic noun, not the modifiers. English would be more f'd up if you didn't.

Imagine if this was correct english:

"I'm a rebel without a cause. You're a rebel without a cause too. We're rebel without a causes!"

Irony (0, Flamebait)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326746)

Land of the free and home of the brave indeed...

Perhaps they should consider hosting from a country with actual free speech.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33326780)

What does this have to do with free speech?

Re:Irony (0)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326958)

TFA says they weren't violating any laws, they just got on the wrong side of powerful people and had to deal with 35 attorneys general holding slanderous press releases.

More corruption (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328802)

From the article: "Too often, we've found, the office of attorney general is used for little more than a way to advance one's political career."

"Taking complaints from your citizenry and turning them into political capital is simply too good an opportunity for these guys to pass up."

"Unlike most other people in business who will attempt to reach out to you to get what they want, and use the threat of going public as a tool, our experience is that the offices of the Attorneys' General seem to be most happy communicating via press conference, without any sort of preliminaries. This is primarily a political exercise, and you're dealing with people who are very empowered to make life difficult for you."

"At no time during this process were we accused of breaking any laws."

"...an AG essentially is a state run law firm employing hundreds of people."

The political system in the U.S. is extremely corrupt.

Re:Irony (1, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326796)

This kind of thing is what scares the shit out of me, especially in California's economy:

Law enforcement shifting its focus to revenue collection. Most infamous are so-called "DUI" checkpoints in which citizens are searched throuroughly and ticketted for every little infraction. There was a story in the local reader about how somebody had their vehicle impounded ($300 bucks right off the bat here) because they didn't have updated insurance paperwork for their valid policy.

And it's only going to get worse.

Re:Irony (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33326850)

The day they try to steal my car for lack of a piece of paper is the day I become a cop killer. I don't care what the criminal gang that calls themselves the government claims "the law" is, stealing is stealing and I will kill to defend myself.

Re:Irony (2, Funny)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326980)

Cops are just doing what they're told, it's not like that kind of focused effort comes from rank-and-file officers.

Re:Irony (2, Insightful)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327382)

They taught me not to follow "unlawful orders" when I was in the military.

Following orders is a very bad excuse for doing something you know is wrong.

Re:Irony (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327486)

Irrelevant. A lot of the reason police brutality and harassment are so common is that the cops feel pretty certain that they're never going to be held accountable for their actions. In sharp contrast to TV fiction it's exceedingly rare [odmp.org] for a cop to be killed in the line of duty in the US. Most cops die from illness or accidents. More cop killings will make the bastards think twice!

Re:Irony (1)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327196)

Holy shit...

Re:Irony (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326930)

$300? Up here in WA state, that ticket is over $600 if I'm not mistaken. They do allow you to submit proof after the fact that you had the insurance and waive most of the fee, but those tickets are expensive. LEOs can ticket you for every single violation they see. They'll generally give a warning on most of them if they feel that you're not going to do it again, but they don't have to. As long as they catch you doing it and it's on the books, the only hope you have is of the judge tossing it.

Re:Irony (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328080)

Also in Washington, I was driving around with an expired card, but the policy was still valid. Sent in proof of insurance and got stuck with a $60 "administrative fee" is what they called it if I remember correctly.

There wasn't even a hint of my car getting impounded.

Re:Irony (4, Informative)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326816)

This ain't about free speech, this is a method of extortion they took down.

"Oh, somebody posted something nasty about you. Pay $20 to take it down." Like that isn't ripe for abuse by the site admins. "Hmm, BillG1020 lives in a wealthy neighbourhood. Clickety-clickety. Let's see how long he takes."

It's a real pity the AG's didn't go further and block removal of comments at all. That's why Slashdot works so well, nasty crud gets modded down most times, but it's still there for the dirty minded buggers to read if they want. You're free to say it and I'm free to ignore it.

Re:Irony (3, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326994)

It's a real pity the AG's didn't go further and block removal of comments at all

And how would that be remotely legal at all?

Re:Irony (3, Informative)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327140)

Dunno about the legality of it, but not being able to remove comments would prevent a slippery slope of editing the public record.

All forums but one I belong to don't allow originators or commentators to remove posts because they would break the flow of the conversation. Admittedly that's about seventeen of however many millions there are.

Consider a meat-space equivalent. Some white guy shouts something nasty at a crowd of blacks in Detroit. The news crews have filmed the incident from the start to the riot where the hospital is burned to the ground. Now the white guy goes and asks the film crews to cut his words out so that it looks like he was just standing there when the crowd went wild by itself.

Re:Irony (2, Insightful)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327178)

The news does this already. Years ago journalists went from wanting to "Deliver the news" to "Change the world" Scandal sells, rebutting a scandal not so much. Cue Fox News jokes, but all the outlets are guilty the only difference is the slant.

Re:Irony (2, Insightful)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327604)

I have belonged to moderated forums.. I see nothing wrong with it.. For the most part removing posts, and censoring and banning people who don't comply with the TOS is done to provide a product to the standard that the owner and administrator of the site determines. I am not bound to these sites, and I have alternative avenues available to express my views.. To give an alternative example.. If I were to join depression and suicide prevention forums, and continued to post comments on the joys and best ways to commit suicide, and to attack various users on why they haven't killed themselves yet.. It would be negligent and wrong for the owners and administrators of the forum to leave my posts there just for "public record".. The different forums I have visited have a wide range of participation, and the users and the moderators play a part in the final product and whether or not I continue to participate.. But I do so with full knowledge that the owners and administrators of these forums have the right to perform quality control. It's a fine line. Too much reigning in is bad, and not enough or none can be bad as well.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327806)

if you dont see anything wrong with it you are a stupid sheep. eventually those forums will become the only ones left and free speech will be dead. its about the medium and forum as much as the message. try and get your statement on cnn for example. then look at coke and see how easy it is for them to pay the $100k/mnute to get on CNN. free speech my ass.

Re:Irony (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328290)

Yes because it is so hard for alternative forums to be created, and there are so few places to post whatever it is your trying to say.. hell it's probably really difficult, like establishing a user account.. but then who wants to keep a record of gems like your post, or the replies to it.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328238)

John Stossel does this all the time.

Re:Irony (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327442)

And how would that be remotely legal at all?

They are not required to remove comments, they chose to do so. They could change their stance to only remove comments with a court order.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327010)

"Oh, somebody posted something nasty about you. Pay $20 to take it down."

Alternatively, you could just not pay the money and wait in line with everyone else. If you want faster service then you should expect to pay for it or do you think all those "line pass" programs at amusement parks should be free because "GOD DAMN IT, I AM ENTITLED TO EVERYTHING!!!1"?

Re:Irony (1)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327154)

The sense I got from the news articles was of without payment, there was no service at all. Whether that was reality or perception by the users, I don't know.

Re:Irony (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326960)

Land of the fee and home of the brave indeed..

Fixed that for ya.

This isn't a free speech issue as much as it is a free market issue. On one hand I'd like to support the company in charging for whatever they want to, it's their company so they can make whatever rules they want. On the other hand removing inappropriate content is not so much a service that the company provides to the community, but a service the community provides to the company. So the practice is in poor taste, but what is the problem? If you think posting on someone else's website is EVER free speech then you need to have your head checked. Slashdot is a fairly open community, but it's still possible to have your voice silenced quickly if you post something that disagrees with the status quo.

Re:Irony (4, Insightful)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327000)

I strongly urge people to read the background information in the links before knee jerking. Here are some pertinent lines:

  “In fact, a large percentage of the posts in some Kentucky forums contain explicit, vulgar, obscene and defamatory posts about citizens, including children.”

According to a press release from Conway’s office, the tools provided by Topix.com to remove the abusive posts are ineffective unless consumers agree to pay a $19.99 fee.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I feel strongly that no one has the right to not be offended. There are many in the US who feel as I do, and I believe that higher law, including the Constitution agrees with this, or at least doesn't contradict it. That said, freedom and anarchy are not the same. People also have the right to protect themselves and their children from being defamed or slandered. Charging someone who might not otherwise access your site if they were not being slandered seems quite ridiculous to me.

Re:Irony (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327228)

"...no one has the right to not be offended..."

Fuck you.

Re:Irony (1)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328234)

"...no one has the right to not be offended..."

Fuck you.

lol... exactly

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327548)

According to a press release from Conway’s office, the tools provided by Topix.com to remove the abusive posts are ineffective unless consumers agree to pay a $19.99 fee.

And was that press-release truthful?

Re:Irony (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327744)

Before I go any further, I want to say that I feel strongly that no one has the right to not be offended. There are many in the US who feel as I do, and I believe that higher law, including the Constitution agrees with this

There is a time and a place for everything.

The US Constitution forces compromise at every turn.

The most dangerous legal mistake a geek can make is to think that those who have framed and interpreted the Constitution over 185 years have ever thought in terms of absolutes.

Re:Irony (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328132)

The most dangerous legal mistake a geek can make is to think that those who have framed and interpreted the Constitution over 185 years have ever thought in terms of absolutes.

It's worth noting here that the First Amendment is as absolute as any change to the Constitution can be and it was the first such change made. I think that makes such talk as yours above, rather unenlightened. Sure, if you were warning us about an absolute interpretation of some obscure clause, I might agree. But instead, you're speaking of one of the core parts of the Constitution.

Second, the original poster already showed, via their discussion of slander and libel, that they do not think in absolutes with respect to freedom of speech, hence, your warning is unjustified. Nor do I see any indication that absolutes were being considered in your quoted fragment anyway. It is merely true that no one has the right to not be offended.

Considering all that, why did you bother to post your warning? Do you really think there should be some sort of "right" or privilege to impose on someone else's freedom in order to merely avoid being offended?

Re:Irony (1)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328432)

Before I go any further, I want to say that I feel strongly that no one has the right to not be offended. There are many in the US who feel as I do, and I believe that higher law, including the Constitution agrees with this

There is a time and a place for everything.

The US Constitution forces compromise at every turn.

The most dangerous legal mistake a geek can make is to think that those who have framed and interpreted the Constitution over 185 years have ever thought in terms of absolutes.

Interesting how you left out the caveat I included that was clearly part of the sentence...

Before I go any further, I want to say that I feel strongly that no one has the right to not be offended. There are many in the US who feel as I do, and I believe that higher law, including the Constitution agrees with this, or at least doesn't contradict it.

That said, I guess to me it goes back to the basic tenet that you have the freedom to exercise your rights as long as the exercise of those rights do not infringe upon others' rights. Whenever there is a conflict of rights that cannot be resolved by the people involved, the next logical step is to take it to agents of the law who will resolve the issue as best they can within the framework of the minor laws while attempting to hold true to the greater principals. Must compromises be made when fundamental rights are at odds? Yes. Is this the same as "The US Constitution forces compromise at every turn"? I don't think so, but of course I am a mere interested layman. My main point was that the issue is not as one-sided as the poster seemed to be indicating.

Re:Irony (2, Interesting)

eco2geek (582896) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327778)

What interests me is the bias of the TechCrunch article, which is along the lines of "powerful attorneys general bully a beleaguered business because it makes them look good." WTF? Why is it assumed that Topix is unfairly under attack from the government, and the attorneys general are only doing what they're doing in order to bolster their careers?

The articles didn't give me a lot to go on, and I've never heard of Topix before, so I have to generalize. Lots of forums are moderated in one way or another, but this is the first time I've heard of one that turned "express moderation" into a profit center. But the point is, I don't start out assuming businesses are the "good guys" and the attorneys general are the "bad guys". My assumption would be that if 33 attorneys general are trying to get a company to change its behavior, they're doing it because they must have gotten quite a few complaints, not because they're attention whores. Businesses generally aren't looking out for my interests; they're looking to make money. I'll take the attorneys general over businesses any day, even if that causes butthurt for CEOs like Chris Tolles.

Re:Irony (3, Interesting)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328740)

My assumption would be that if 33 attorneys general are trying to get a company to change its behavior, they're doing it because they must have gotten quite a few complaints, not because they're attention whores.

When the AG's issue press releases instead of talking to the company about their concerns, you should assume the AG's are doing it for the media attention. According to the article, the AG's did this with both press releases. The first time, the release lied by claiming they had sent a letter to to company when the letter wasn't postmarked until five days later. The second time, the AG's never expressed to the company the changes they'd like to see made before villifying them in the press.

Maybe the article is wrong and the company is lying about the AG's behavior. The article doesn't say whether the reporter tried to get the AG's side of the story, which probably means the reporter didn't. However, if the accusations in the article are true, then then, yes, the AG's were acting like "attention whores".

Re:Irony (2, Interesting)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327794)

Most of the Topix small town boards are complete cesspools. It's like the old fashioned small-town gossip phone tree, except 1) it's completely anonymous and 2) millions of people can access it easily.

A lot of these small towns are trying to increase tourism and bring new industries into their communities. Having a public forum where their citizens are anonymously posting vitriolic comments about other citizens is not going to attract tourism or industry.

Re:Irony (2, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327114)

In Soviet Russia, post removes Attorney General!

Wait ... didn't that also happen to some AG named Elliott something-or-other in New York when details of his "hooker dates" leaked?

So move your servers to Kanuckistan. Welcome to the Great White North - soon to be the Great Green North, thanks to global warming.

Re:Irony (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327262)

That was the Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer.

He was banging a hooker for a 1000 dollars an hour, the Feds were investigating and got him on a wiretap. He'd been doing it too as AG of New York, and had spent at least 80,000 on hookers.

Oh and he used campaign money to rent hotel rooms for his hookups.

Re:Irony (2, Informative)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328506)

Oh and he used campaign money to rent hotel rooms for his hookups.

Unless you were there, I don't see how you can make that claim:
" the prosecutors found no evidence that Mr. Spitzer had used public money or campaign funds to pay for his encounters with prostitutes, he said."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/07/nyregion/07spitzer.html?_r=1&hp [nytimes.com]

And it's interesting how you left out all the good things he did in his career, not the least of which was taking on the Gambino crime family.

http://www.ag.ny.gov/media_center/2002/jun/jun04a_02.html [ny.gov]

Does anyone REALLY care that he got down with some hookers? Are we really still so prude?

Re:Irony (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328826)

Gee, sorry I missed the correction to the NY Times, I was going by what they'd said on July 16, 2008.

So I take back that he used campaign funds to pay for rooms.

But not that he cheated on his wife and blew over 80,000 on hookers.

If he was the governor of my state, I'd care that he "got down" with some hookers. But he never was and the Gambino crime family has no power in any state I've lived, so his taking them on really doesn't sway me either.

If you read your own link, Spitzer was only there for the press conference. The people who took the Mob on were all Feds.

"The case will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Frederick J. Whelan III, who is an Assistant Deputy New York State Attorney General in the AG’s Organized Crime Task Force, and Assistant US Attorneys Andrew M. Genser, Katya Jestin and Arthur Hui. The Task Force is headed by Deputy Attorney General George Quinlan, and supervised by Chris Prather, Assistant Deputy of the AG’s Criminal Division."

Re:Irony (1)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329014)

Gee, sorry I missed the correction to the NY Times

It wasn't a correction. You went by the accusations, not by what was proven. There's a big difference.

Spitzer was only there for the press conference. The people who took the Mob on were all Feds.

Do you know about anything you say, or do you just say whatever nonsense comes to mind?

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1003960-5,00.html [time.com]
(starts at paragraph 2)

He headed the three year investigation, and masterminded the operation that brought him down. He was a modern day Eliot Ness.

As far as whether anything he did affected you, I recommend you read the whole Time article. It's titled: Eliot Spitzer: Wall Street's Top Cop

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1003960-1,00.html [time.com]

Here's to New Zealand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33326762)

I sure hope they outlaw software patents. I'd happily set my site up there and block all New Zealand requests. It would be worth it just to avoid talking to AGs.

This begs the question... To be answered! (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326784)

At some point there will have to be a decision on where an "Internet company" really is. You simply can not be subject to all the laws of all the places on the Internet.

The answer is already here. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33326900)

Put the company outside the jurisdiction of concern.

Re:The answer is already here. (3, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327564)

Under current laws internet companies are treated the same as mail-order companies -

They are subject to the laws of whatever state they reside (say: Vermont) plus the central, general government if their goods (say teddy bears) cross state lines. (If they don't cross lines, then only Maine has authority.) In my example the business would not be subject to foreign government outside of Vermont, just the same way a Polish business is not subject to the governments of Germany or France or other EU states.

And there's a good reason for that: No seller or citizen (like me) should be subject to a government where he has no representation.

Re:The answer is already here. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327704)

They are subject to the laws of whatever state they reside (say: Vermont) plus the central, general government if their goods cross state lines. In my example the business would not be subject to foreign government outside of Vermont, just the same way a Polish business is not subject to the governments of Germany or France or other EU states.

You've forgotten that goods crossing international borders have always been subject to export controls and export duties, import controls and import duties.

The wood stove you import from Vermont still has to meet local fire codes and emission standards.

You may own it, but you can't get a permit to install it. If you install it anyway, your fire insurance goes up in smoke.

Re:The answer is already here. (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327972)

>>>You've forgotten that goods

Good grief. You didn't understand a single word I wrote. I wasn't talking about the good. I was talking about the company. The man who owns Vermont Teddy Bears is subject to VT and US regulation, but not California or any of the other states. Those governments haze zero jurisdiction over non-citizens.

As for other brilliant ideas, like New York State wanting me to collect taxes from my ebay buyers and file a tax return, they can rot in hell. I owe zero allegiance to that government, nor do I have any voice speaking for me in its legislature.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327034)

Just require users to swear they are all in one state.

Magic

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328892)

Just tell users if they want your online services, they have to come to your server in (whatever state or country). Isn't it great that the internet allows people to go to so many places where so many companies are.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (0, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327112)

Sure you can. At least if your company is actually "doing business" in those places. Everybody else has to do that... why should internet companies be different?

If you do business in Michigan, you obey Michigan's laws. Chill and deal or get out.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327208)

Sure you can. At least if your company is actually "doing business" in those places. Everybody else has to do that... why should internet companies be different?

If you do business in Michigan, you obey Michigan's laws. Chill and deal or get out.

The only problem with that is the case where you have no physical business presence in that jurisdiction. Would you want to be subject to all China's laws, and simultaneously all Iran's, just because you happen to have someone use your service from those countries? No? Then physical location must matter.

What does that mean for all those state AGs? I have no idea, TBH. However there must be precedents with things like mail order firms; they must have been facing the same sorts of problems (though slower) way back...

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327308)

If you don't want to be subject to Chinese laws then don't do business with Chinese customers. Now on a related note if you happen to do business with China but have no physical presence there then China would be forced to extradite you OR attempt to sue you in your jurisdiction. (I believe this is true anyone with more knowledge feel free to correct me) UNLESS you happen to be stupid enough to travel to country that has a warrant for your arrest, theres been a few poor bastards that got nabbed by the FBI because they had a connecting flight in the States even though USA was not there intended destination.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327510)

China cannot sue you in the US for laws broken in China.

China also cannot extradite you, unless you were physically in China, broke laws when in China, and fled from justice there.

Even if you did, the US might not hand you over for extradition.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327580)

>>>If you don't want to be subject to Chinese laws then don't do business with Chinese customers.

No citizen should be held liable to a legislature where he/she has NO representation. If I sell ebay goods to a Chinese person, I am not liable to their law. If they don't like these goods for some reason, let them block the good at the border (and arrest the Chinese purchaser for breaking the law). But me? No jurisdiction without representation.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328580)

No citizen should be held liable to a legislature where he/she has NO representation. If I sell ebay goods to a Chinese person, I am not liable to their law. If they don't like these goods for some reason, let them block the good at the border (and arrest the Chinese purchaser for breaking the law). But me? No jurisdiction without representation.

By that logic Osama bin Laden can not be held liable to US law for the 9/11 attack because he wasn't in the US. Even though you are not in China they can consider you to be conspiring with someone in China to break Chinese law. Now China probably won't ask for and won't get you extradited, but I have no problem seeing how they could consider you an accomplice to the crime. Otherwise mail order companies could e.g. send you illegal prescription drugs with impunity, as long as they're not illegal where they came from.

I consider Internet servers do be different. I do not generally know where any IP is from nor what route it takes, and GeoIP databases are a costly and inaccurate extra service that is generally not available with most hosting solutions nor generally implemented as a filter. I consider that equal to packing a delivery for shipment, then some courier will come pick it up and take it by smoe unknown route to an unknown destination. If that happens to be smuggling it into China, it's not my fault and not my problem.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327678)

And if someone in China takes an extended vacation in the U.K. and visits your site from there, should you THEN be subject to U.K. laws, Chinese law, or the law where you are located. All of the above plus any other jurisdiction the packets may have gone through? If you are to be subject to U.K. law, will you also be permitted to vote in their elections? Will you also gain the protections of U.K. laws?

What if the Chinese person in China uses a proxy in some other country to complete the transaction (complete with a parcel forwarding service)?

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327496)

I think the AGs from other states are playing an intimidation game here

They might not have a legal leg to stand on, and no charges they can bring successfully... but their concerns and the way they keep publicizing them may harm the reputation of the site.

It would be interesting to see Topix Suing 32 state AGs for defamation and some type of abuse, instead of caving in.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328970)

Then physical location must matter.

I disagree, with the sole exception of taxation. The fact of the matter is that if you are doing business in Michigan -- or any other state -- and regardless of whether you are selling via internet or mail order, if you don't have a physical presence in that state, that state cannot tax you... BUT you still have to obey all other laws of commerce in that state that apply to your business. Those laws already apply. Saying that the internet should be immune would be to actually change existing law.

That is why, when you see "contests" and "sweepstakes" online, they will typically say in fine print "not valid in states xxx, yyy, and zzz."

And so it is with other countries, as well. Man, it sure would be nice to be able to do business in a country without having to pay any attention to its laws. But that's not reality, or even realistic. It's not likely to ever happen.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327222)

For a website like a forum that doesn't have any physical presence in a particular location, what constitutes not doing business in a state? Do I have to do IP geolocation and block users from that state, or can I just put in my terms of use that users from that state may not use the site?

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328992)

You have to be charging money for goods or services. That is what is generally accepted as "doing business". There may be a few minor exceptions, but that's pretty much it.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327286)

Everybody else has to do that... why should internet companies be different?

I hear the have internet in east bumfuckistan. Should all the world's internet sites obey east bumfuckistani law?

Try these on for size: The Middle East (no depictions of mohammed), Thailand (I hear they have a lot of respect for their king), France (got a thing against Nazi memorabilia), China (Tiananmen square is a touchy subject), [...].

What is the cost of making every website in 192 different versions? How do you vet user-supplied content for legality across 192 different jurisdictions?

So, to answer your question very explicitly: Internet companies should be different, one might argue, because your office or shop tends to not be built on the border between country A and B but the internet is, for every value of A and B.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328988)

Having a website that others can visit is not "doing business in" that state or country. But if you are selling goods, or memberships, then yes you ARE doing business in that location. That's just the law, man. I didn't make it. Look it up.

And the same laws apply if you are selling via mail-order rather than online. I ask again: why should the internet be an exception to well-established laws? Everybody else has to obey them.

Re:This begs the question... To be answered! (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327472)

Probably, registering the domain through one of the massively popular proxy services to anonymize whois, and going through great lengths to not disclose the identity of the company, would help with these types of things.

Can a Kentucky attorney general get a court order or subpoena to make an ISP in California reveal the identity of the company operating the web server, without a specific suspicion or even California law being alleged as broken?

Maybe.

Can a Kentucky AG get an ISP in Mexico, Canada, or Newfoundland to do the same? Probably not.

If Slashdot can have Anonymous cowards, why have forum sites not taken a similar stance, if it can offer them some minor protection against having 33 AGs suddenly going after them when they didn't even break any laws.....?

No laws were broken (4, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 3 years ago | (#33326942)

The AGs should not be able to do this until they can demonstrate laws were broken. Otherwise they are making up the rules as they go along. Rules that have not been approved by a law making body.

Topix should be able to petition a judge to shut down any talk of remediation until the AGs present formal charges.

Re:No laws were broken (3, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327008)

AGs shouldn't be able to do anything at all. The California attorney general has jurisdiction. The rest of the world (except the federal government) has no say whatsoever.

Re:No laws were broken (3, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327162)

Well then I guess they only provide services to people in the state of california. In reality they don't, you know it, I know it, they knew it. It's the same reason why FB has drawn the ire of both the german and canadian governments. Because the internet removes borders, and as such they become subject to the laws of other places.

Re:No laws were broken (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327626)

It's amazing how dumb people can be (at least in regards to the law and jurisdiction).

Let's say an owner is located in UK but his website is visible all across the EU. That means he's subject to the laws of UK, the EU, and nothing else. It does not matter that his site is visible in France, Germany, Poland, and so on..... he is not subject to their laws. LIKEWISE: An owner located in CA but visible all across the US is subject to the laws of CA, the US, and nothing else. It does not matter that his site is visible in Arizona, Missouri, Virginia, and so on..... he is not subject to their laws.

No jurisdiction without representation.

Re:No laws were broken (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327904)

Being visible to is one thing. What if he starts offering his site in French as well? What if - prior to the adoption of the Euro - he offered his services available by payment in French Francs? Can you still argue that It's just a site in the UK that is only subject to UK legislation?

I agree that a line should be drawn, otherwise pretty much every site is going to be breaking a law -somewhere- and being subject to that law by default would be insane; but I'm not so sure that the line should be drawn so black-and-white as to say "the server is in" or "the owner of the site is registered in" being the discriminating factors in terms of what state's law applies.

Re:No laws were broken (2, Insightful)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328026)

Being visible to is one thing. What if he starts offering his site in French as well? What if - prior to the adoption of the Euro - he offered his services available by payment in French Francs? Can you still argue that It's just a site in the UK that is only subject to UK legislation?

Yes.

If the owner of the site decided to start accepting Chinese currency and offering his site in Chinese, he would still not be subject to Chinese laws. There's going to be an arbitrary line drawn either way, and we cannot have a chaotic mishmash where nobody is sure what jurisdiction applies to a website.

Re:No laws were broken (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328074)

>>>Can you still argue that It's just a site in the UK that is only subject to UK legislation?

No British citizen who lives on British soil should ever feel the cold steel of a French guillotine, especially if he's never left the British Isles. Furthermore, it is not logical for a Englishman to be answerable to a Fucking Legislature where he has no voice. Can you imagine that chaos that would cause?

"We the French assembly have determined that all web owners that displayed nudity, even prior to passage of this law, shall spend 10 years in jail." You'd end-up deporting British web owners to France where they would be jailed by a foreign government.

Yeah I know I exaggerated, but it seems with some people you have to hit them with a hammer to make them understand the implications of subjecting citizens to foreign Governments where they have Zero representation and Zero voice. Ya know, I don't feel like having my head chopped off just because an Iranian purchased an Ebay hard drive from me that showed women in bikinis.

Re:No laws were broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328518)

Furthermore, it is not logical for a Englishman to be answerable to a Fucking Legislature where he has no voice.

Doesn't this make the English legal system illogical?

Re:No laws were broken (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328602)

Things aren't so simple as you make it seem. You may even be correct in your examples (I'm not familiar enough with the laws of the UK or EU to comment) but they're still over-simplified.

The reality is, each "body" makes up its own rules regarding jurisdiction. If I were the dictator of Dhalkaville, I could pass a law stating that anybody anywhere in the world who wears a blue shirt should be executed.

The practical effects? Few, because nobody is going to extradite you to me for wearing a blue shirt. However if you stepped foot off an airplane in my country wearing a blue shirt, there's nothing at all stopping me from arresting you, declaring you guilty (hey, it's my country so I get to determine the rules for trial as well) and executing you. At that point if they really want to stop me, they're declaring war.

Now obviously this is a ridiculous and wholly contrived example, but it applies equally to more mundane things. It's how, for example, Google executes could be indicted it Italy under Italian laws despite being US citizens and a US company. Practical effect? Little. Effect if they happen to visit Italy? Could be large.

The situations are further complicated by various treaties. The entire EU is essentially one big treaty, for example. They may have some sort of law stating that any indictment in one member nation is binding in other member nations; essentially a huge, multi-national agreed-upon extradition framework. (Or, hell, they may not. Like I said, I don't know.) If Dhalkaville happens to be friends with Commodoreland that blue shirt decree is suddenly twice as bad.

Re:No laws were broken (1)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328948)

The state department protects US citizens abroad and will rain hell on anyone who harms someone carrying a US passport.

Re:No laws were broken (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327694)

That's exactly what they do though. The users travel to California using their packets as an intermediary.

Re:No laws were broken (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328088)

When the telephone was invented, the US Supreme Court already ruled that just because a person's voice carries into a foreign state does not mean he/she is subject to that other state's laws. The person is only subject when his body enters the other state.

Today's reality (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327190)

Today if you are a white male anyone can pretty much say whatever they want about you without it being considered actionable. There is libel and slander, but it is difficult to prove actual malice. Without that it is going to be a tough fight in court to get anywhere with libel or slander.

However, if you are in what is considered to be a protected group, such as women, African-Americans or other groups like this, it can easily be considered a violation of federal law to post comments which are derogatory without even getting into libel or slander. This is a side effect of "hate speech" laws that have come about.

Of course we are all familiar with the idea that if a member of a protected class is murdered and the State does not convict anyone the accused can be tried again (and again and again until convicted) under federal civil rights laws. The idea of double jeopardy has fallen by the wayside when it comes to protected groups.

I would say a web site that charges a fee to remove comments from a forum about a protected group is just asking for trouble on a federal level. Sooner or later they are going to run into someone that gets the attention of a big-name bigmouth like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson Sr. I wouldn't think you would have to go very far to find someone like Barney Franks that could exert some influence on behalf of a gay person being charged a fee to remove some anti-gay comment.

For "unsupervised" forums there may be some cover, but I would imagine it is just a matter of time before this is noticed. Sure, a Slashdot comment may be modded down. But if a unmoderated forum allows comments to stick around and be visible it better be a white male only forum because anything else can get you into serious trouble.

We all have to watch out for the civil rights of protected groups or else they will suffer grevious harm. Right?

Re:Today's reality (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327526)

This is a side effect of "hate speech" laws that have come about.

In the US, there is no hate speech laws, the 1st amendment of the US constitution broadly prohibits regulation of the content of speech.

Re:Today's reality (2, Informative)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327740)

This is a side effect of "hate speech" laws that have come about.

In the US, there is no hate speech laws, the 1st amendment of the US constitution broadly prohibits regulation of the content of speech.

It's called "hate crime" not "hate speech". And yes something you say can be counted as a "hate crime".

"The 1964 Federal Civil Rights Law, 18 U.S.C. 245(b)(2), permits federal prosecution of anyone who "willingly injures, intimidates or interferes with another person, or attempts to do so, by force because of the other person's race, color, religion or national origin" [1] because of the victim's attempt to engage in one of six types of federally protected activities, such as attending school, patronizing a public place/facility, applying for employment, acting as a juror in a state court or voting."

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, enacted in 28 U.S.C. 994 note Sec. 280003, requires the United States Sentencing Commission to increase the penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or gender of any person. In 1995, the Sentencing Commission implemented these guidelines, which only apply to federal crimes.

On October 28, 2009 President Obama, signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (attached to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010), which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and which dropped the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity.

So if you combine all these, you end up with intimidation being a severely punishable offence if the person is a minority. Since 'intimidation' is extremely vague the law can punish you for libel or slander if it is 'intimidating' in nature. Bye freedom of speech.

This doesn't even include state laws

Re:Today's reality (2, Interesting)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327958)

So if you combine all these, you end up with intimidation being a severely punishable offence if the person is a minority

Being a minority is not a requirement to be a victim of a civil rights violation, violent crime, or hate crime. A black man being attacked by the KKK because he is black is just as much a victim as a white man being attacked by the Black Panthers because he's white. It doesn't matter if the victim is in a majority or minority, it's based on if the crime is based on race, religion, gender, orientation, etc. It just happens that minorities are more often the victims then those in the majority.

Re:Today's reality (2, Insightful)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328904)

If this were true then high schools or colleges would have no problem establishing "White spirit" clubs. Also I would be able to start the Nation Association for the Advancement of White People, or White Entertainment Television. There is a double standard, and it is very slanted.

Re:Today's reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33329032)

It also just happens that there is close to zero enforcement of 'hate crime' laws if the victim is white and the perpetrator is in a minority group.

Re:Today's reality (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328688)

In the US, there is no hate speech laws, the 1st amendment of the US constitution broadly prohibits regulation of the content of speech.

It's called "hate crime" not "hate speech". And yes something you say can be counted as a "hate crime". (...) So if you combine all these, you end up with intimidation being a severely punishable offence if the person is a minority. Since 'intimidation' is extremely vague the law can punish you for libel or slander if it is 'intimidating' in nature. Bye freedom of speech.

Hypothetical mob: "This place ain't for the likes of you, get the fuck out of here before we beat the crap out of you. If you or any of your n*gger friends ever show their ugly face here again you're dead meat. I'll give you to the count of ten. One. Two. Three..."

Not all speech is protected, death threats are not. Combine that with hate directed at a minority you've got a pretty clear case of hate crime if you ask me. "Intimidation" is not a general insult, it's a threat of harm and I can't really imagine the courts having much trouble telling those apart.

Re:Today's reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328248)

Today if you are a white male anyone can pretty much say whatever they want about you without it being considered actionable.

You're confusing the fact that white males tend to do most of the oppression in this country with the notion that there's a legal principle (implicit or explicit) that says the reverse can't happen. Of course it can, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn't happen very often.

However, the fact that you seem to confuse these two points suggests pretty clearly why we still have this problem: you think that white men aren't still a privileged group. We've come a long way toward equality, but there is a hell of a long way to go yet.

And before anyone shoots their mouths off, I'm a middle-aged white male, raised affluent and pretty damn privileged. I've seen enough, both personally and in studies, to know that my personal perception of being unfairly treated isn't necessarily reality, though.

Re:Today's reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328576)

That's a load of bullshit. Whites do not have some sort of institutional system of privilege for themselves. Granted, there are still backwater towns and individuals out there who have these views, but the case for making it out to be widely institutionalized isn't there.

My white skin did not get me to where I was today - I had to work my ass off to get here, and I consider myself very fortunate knowing that there are lots of other whites who are unemployed because of the recession.

You want to talk about privilege? Why don't you go up to the countless numbers of poor working class whites (it only seems to be the suburban whites who go on this "white privilege" guilt trip, thinking that all whites are affluent, employed, and live in McMansions like they do) who can't find jobs because of the recession and/or because their jobs were outsourced to factories in China. It's really ridiculous to hear this sort of garbage day in and day out. It also grinds me because one side of my family comes from a rather impoverished background - perhaps it would be a little more humbling for assholes like you if you were to see the conditions that many ACTUAL WHITE PEOPLE live in but often are ignored because, hey, they must still be privileged due to their skin color somehow.

The problem with terms like "oppression" and "racism" is that they seem to be arbitrary definitions that change based on who is making the charge and who the target group is - so I'm not going to get into a debate of who is "doing all the oppression".

Re:Today's reality (1, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328262)

Ah yes. It is terrible to be a white man in the US. Let me give you a clue: you have no idea what it is like to be a woman, a black person, or a Muslim. Stop comparing your plight to theirs, it makes you look ridiculous. Furthermore, while a gay person might have Barney Franks to go to, you, as a white male, can go to 81% of the Senate and 76% of the House to find someone white. An only slightly smaller fraction of that would be white and male. So no, you're not being prosecuted or mistreated. You're still part of the group in power.

Of course we are all familiar with the idea that if a member of a protected class is murdered and the State does not convict anyone the accused can be tried again (and again and again until convicted) under federal civil rights laws.

Remember OJ? Clearly, not. Civil rights apply to everyone. Thankfully.

Let me repeat that for you: as a white male, you are the power group. Not the persecuted group. The persecution you feel is the same as that of Christians in the US: completely imaginary, and only based on the fact that your power has decreased from its zenith during the last few hundred years.

Re:Today's reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328526)

Let me repeat that for you: as a white male, you are the power group.

This is a hilarious and false canard. Whites do not have racial lobbying groups - go start a "White Students Association" or a "NAAWP" and see what the social outcry is. Yeah, some power we have.

Discrimination against whites has been an official policy of the government and many institutions for a long time. The government has, for example, policies that prefer minority owned businesses over white owned ones. Universities often have policies that place lesser qualified non-whites above whites in the admissions process. But boneheads like you come out and say HURR DURR WHITES HAVE INSTITUTIONALIZED THEIR SUPREMACY!!!111one.

Furthermore, even though we are in the majority, it is very difficult to make the case that this majority is even explicitly looking out for its own interests. Does that 81% of the Senate and 76% of the House in any believable sense represent some sort of "white power" bloc? Maybe you'll just tell me that, whilst preaching anti-racism and often times promoting immigration (that is having the net effect of replacing whites), that they're somehow crypto racists looking to subvert the system silently. Yeah, that must be what they're doing!

Re:Today's reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328544)

Ah, the clueless preaching to the clueless. Please, sir, I want some more. This entertainment is priceless.

yeaaah federal is freedom yeaaah ! (0, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327458)

you americans were fucking my head with this, when talking about all the recent political developments.

enjoy your federalism now. with this kind of 'freedom', people in one state will or will not be able to do things that are legal and free in their state, because it isnt in another. so, people in that state will live by other states' laws.

enjoy federalism. it is freedom. self-conflicting freedom.

a State of the United States != State of America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328478)

Know the difference.

US Code says nothing about a State of America, other than that those are foreign nations with foreign principles of a forein country and continent.

You've been hornswoggled.

In defense of Topix... (4, Informative)

johnhp (1807490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327544)

A friend of mine came to me when she found disparaging things were posted about her on one of the Topix threads, and wanted me to help her to use her debit card to pay for having it removed. Being unfamiliar with Topix's extortion, I was naturally very surprised to see that they offered this "expedited investigation" or whatever it was called. I convinced her to wait a few days and see whether the normal channel of removal worked.

Oddly enough, it did work. I was able to flag the post over the course of a couple of days, and it was eventually removed. So don't say that they *never* removed posts based on the free system. They did at least once.

Perfect statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327710)

'Taking complaints from your citizenry and turning them into political capital is simply too good an opportunity for these guys to pass up.' This is truly a perfect statement, showing the gross injustices be performed within America's and the rest of the worlds justice systems. Think Eliot Spitzer of New York. He went after everyone he simply thought he could get his claws into. Thank God he fell into the pit of a whore.

Attourneys General? (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327770)

Seriously, can we stop with the French throwbacks, and say things the English way? What's wrong with General Attourneys?

Re:Attourneys General? (1)

electrostatic (1185487) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328068)

Seriously, can we stop with the French throwbacks, and say things the English way? What's wrong with General Attourneys?

Yes, that would make the singular and plural possessive cases easier.

For example, an AG and her staff are having lunch and the waiter arrives with sandwiches.

Should you tell him "that's the attorney's general ham and cheese"? Or should you say "that's the attorney general's sandwich"?

In TFA, should it be "the 33 attorneys' general lying venality"? Or "the 33 attorneys general's mendacity?"

Sandwiches? I didn't know Attornies eat food. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328306)

Yes, that would make the singular and plural possessive cases easier.
For example, an AG and her staff are having lunch and the waiter arrives with sandwiches.
Should you tell him "that's the attorney's general ham and cheese"? Or should you say "that's the attorney general's sandwich"?
In TFA, should it be "the 33 attorneys' general lying venality"? Or "the 33 attorneys general's mendacity?"

You are making a mistake on the penmanship; by convention of it's usage, it needs be writ Attorney-General as the form of an General Attorney. Also, it is helpful to know the word flow-control difference of using either a dash or a hyphen.

Re:Attourneys General? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328682)

What's wrong with General Attourneys?

It's misspelt.

Who gives a rip? (1)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328288)

Topix is a horrible, searcn-engine spamming, pop-up and advert-ridden site whose very existence depends entirely upon leeching other sites' content.

Not worth the mention here or anywhere.

I'm shocked! Shocked I tell you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328550)

That persons in government actually listened to their constituents and moved to protect the interests of the people who they're supposed to serve!

Surely that's not the way things are supposed to work!

Seriously, these guys are doing their jobs, and that's fine. You can lament all you like about the horrors of a company being subjected to the jurisdiction of a place they aren't, but it's not like companies haven't tried to take advantage of escaping enforcement before.

Want to know why there's a movie industry in Hollywood California? It's because they went out there to get away from Edison's patents. You can bemoan all you want about how it's unfair, but if you don't want to at least recognize another country's (or state's) authority, don't do business of any kind with its residents.

And if you want protection from them say, extraditing you, then make sure wherever you live has some way to protect you from when it happens. Just don't expect it to be absolute.

Anybody ever read their TOS Agreement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33328690)

See, that's the thing about corporations. They try to get you to sign away ever right and protection you might have, they do their best to keep things out of court, to keep you in a position where you can get screwed by them.

So no, I'm not sympathetic to their complaints about some state authorities taking an interest in them. It's not like you can do it yourself.

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