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Smearing Toddler Reputations Via Internet: Free Speech Or Extortion?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the class-act dept.

Censorship 213

retroworks writes "Crystal Cox, a Montana woman who calls herself an 'investigative journalist,' was slapped with a $2.5-million judgment last year for defaming an investment firm and one of its lead partners. Cox had taken control of the Google footprint of Obsidian Finance and its principal Kevin Padrick by writing hundreds of posts about them on dozens of websites she owned, inter-linking them in ways that made them rise up in Google search results; it ruined Obsidian's business due to prospective clients being put off by the firm's seemingly terrible online reputation. After Obsidian sued Cox, she contacted them offering her 'reputation services;' for $2,500 a month, she could 'fix' the firm's reputation and help promote its business. The Forbes Article goes on to describe how she tried to similarly leverage attorneys and journalists reputations. Finding some of her targets were too well established in google rank to pester or intimidate, Cox moved to family members, reserving domain names for one of her target's 3-year-old daughter. Forbes columnist Kashmir Hill makes the case that this clearly isn't journalism, and establishes a boundary for free speech online."

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That's Dumb (-1, Troll)

smc170 (2609895) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565781)

The internet is made for rising up and protesting. If you want to start charging people millions for internet posts, then pass SOPA.

Re:That's Dumb (5, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565953)

This isn't "rising up and protesting", this is one individual attempting to game the system to extort a company for lots of money.

This is the exact opposite of Internet protests such as those against SOPA, which involved hundreds of thousands of people fighting against corporate greed and government corruption. This case is just about an asshole who wants money.

Re:That's Dumb (-1)

smc170 (2609895) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566017)

Sorry, didn't really read the post right. Got so caught up in being #1!

Re:That's Dumb (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566025)

Crystal Cocks, what a name!

Re:That's Dumb (2)

Apothem (1921856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566083)

It sounds like a pornstar name or something. Makes you wonder what got her started with journalism.....

Re:That's Dumb (1)

smc170 (2609895) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566339)

But why is it Crystal?! That's disturbing...

Re:That's Dumb (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566463)

"Crystal Cox, a Montana woman who calls herself "the best cock sucker ever" was slapped with a $2.5-million judgment last year for not actually knowing how to suck cock. Cox had taken control of the penis of Obsidian Finance and its principal Kevin Padrick and never brought any man to orgasm."

Its a sad story indeed.

Re:That's Dumb (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566519)

Have you met a "journalist" lately? They are not what you think they are. They make up things all the time, or inflame something to blow it out of proportion to only get page hits.

I have more respect for Hookers on the street than a Journalist. at leas the hooker is being up front with you.

Re:That's Dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566737)

Have you met a "journalist" lately? They are not what you think they are. They make up things all the time, or inflame something to blow it out of proportion to only get page hits.

I have more respect for Hookers on the street than a Journalist. at leas the hooker is being up front with you.

Ha! If only that was true. The last hooker I went to was nowhere near up front with me about her skills or even her services provided.

Wait? Did I just say that out loud?

Re:That's Dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567687)

I went to school with a girl called Rosella Dick. Rosie for short.

She had an older sister named Violet.

Seems like Libel (5, Insightful)

bytestorm (1296659) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565795)

How is this not libel/slander, which is not protected speech?

Re:Seems like Libel (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566055)

It's only libel/slander when someone actually brings up a lawsuit claiming it?!?!

Either way, the lady is a major TROLL. How anyone could ethically do business with that kind of person is rather abhorant. Are those people not aware of who they do business with?

Re:Seems like Libel (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566259)

libel slander perhaps...

Im thinking at a minimum extortion probably more along the lines of racketeering.

Re:Seems like Libel (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566293)

It is. Read the summary - she got slapped with a fine for defamation. Libel and slander are types of defamation.

Indeed, this is a non-issue (5, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566945)

Right on.

WTF is up with the inflammatory headline: "Free Speech or Journalism"? Defamation, extortion, and libel is not now, and never has been, any kind of protected speech. It doesn't matter if you do it in your local newspaper, leaflets you hand out throughout the neighborhood, the corner soapbox, or a network of libelous websites.

I think the key... (5, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565803)

I think the key is that she offered to change it all for money. I think that's the part that should be illegal, not posting all that stuff in the first place. And threatening to post it unless you get money should be treated very similarly.

Lastly, this, in a small way, Google's fault. Their algorithm is fooled by stuff the human curating process would've had a much harder time being fooled by.

But I don't think we need any restraints on speech to handle this issue.

Re:I think the key... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39565873)

The day I learned of 'Google-bombing', I lost any confidence in their search engine.

Libel is a criminal act, and attacking uninvolved relatives of targets deserves prosecution. Her offer to sell out proves that it was not any sort of 'search for the truth' or whatever journalistic slogan you can find.

Fine her and close her blogs.

Re:I think the key... (0, Flamebait)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566053)

Fine her? How about "jail her for extortion" and "seize everything she owns under RICO"?. Last time I checked extortion and racketeering were felonies. She's just damned lucky that her target didn't decide to settle it with 230 grains of lead (which is, in my not-at-all-humble opinion the only proper way to deal with blackmailers and extortionists, especially when they threaten children like this bitch did).

Freedom of speech does not include freedom to slander.

Re:I think the key... (1, Offtopic)

MasseKid (1294554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566177)

Just because you prefer 45 ACP doesn't mean everyone does. A 9mm would have done just as good of a job.

Re:I think the key... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566321)

Yeah, some folks prefer to double- or triple-tap. With a .45 ACP, you only need one round.

Re:I think the key... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566935)

yes, yes, but a .22 long rifle is MUCH cheaper and still gets the job done. And as an added bonus you get practice for zombie hunting.

Re:I think the key... (-1, Troll)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566451)

Freedom of speech does not include freedom to slander.

Actually, sweetheart, that's exactly what it includes.

Or should, because the next step is to call unwanted criticism of our rulers "slander", and punish the critics for criticizing.

Re:I think the key... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566627)

Wow, you are woefully misinformed. Freedom of speech absolutely does NOT include slander. Further it absolutely should not. Your defense to accusations of slander is TRUTH. You cannot be convicted of slander for truthful statements. If what you want is the ability to LIE about people and suffer no consequences, go look somewhere else.

Re:I think the key... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567313)

Your defense to accusations of slander is TRUTH. You cannot be convicted of slander for truthful statements.

For what it is worth, that isn't true everywhere, i.e. England (and maybe other places).

Re:I think the key... (4, Insightful)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566701)

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of your speech. She can say those things, and they can sue for libel/slander/defamation, and in this case, she also engaged in extortion, which has it's own set of penalties.

Re:I think the key... (4, Funny)

next_ghost (1868792) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566923)

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of your speech.

Let me tell you a joke: The director of KGB was interviewed at the peak of Soviet era. When the reporter asked about freedom of speech, the director replied: "Our country has complete freedom of speech. Freedom after speech is a whole different matter though."

Re:I think the key... (4, Informative)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567189)

You jest, but freedom of speech has always been first and foremost about "prior restraint" of speech, not about freedom from consequences. Many types of speech have had, and continue to have consequences. Libel, slander, defamation, hate speech, etc. can all have legal consequences. Threaten someone, and you may get you butt kicked, or even die. If you survive, you might be charged with a crime for the threat. Some types of speech are protected against legal/government imposed consequences, such as the right to criticize the government, but there is no blanket protection from consequences of all speech.

Re:I think the key... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567145)

Actually, sweetheart, that's exactly what it includes.

But honestly Monica...

Lack of understanding of the topic AND a condescending tone to boot. Nice one.

Re:RICO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566479)

To go under RICO you need an *organization* (hence the "O").

Re:RICO. (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567545)

Didn't you get the memo? People and corporations are legally equivalent.

Re:I think the key... (1)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566943)

Freedom of speech does not include freedom to slander.

I figured you'd say that, you sheep-romancer! Like the wool, don't ya.

way to go, editors! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566267)

journalistic slogan

Journalisic. Because according to TFS she's a journalis, not a journalist.

Shitandpiss truly does the work of three men - if they're Curly, Larry & Moe.

Re:I think the key... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566345)

Libel is a criminal act

This is in the United States, where criminal libel is rare or nonexistent, depending on the state [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I think the key... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566481)

The libel isn't criminally prosecutable, but the harrassment and extortion are.

Incidentally folks, RICO has no bearing here. The "O" stands for Organization. Other statutes allowing for treble damages might apply, though it's not like they're ever going to collect the 2.5M in the first place. Poor Ms Cox will lose her home and all her assets tho ... couldn't have happened to a more deserving scumbag.

Re:I think the key... (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565891)

I think the key is that she offered to change it all for money. I think that's the part that should be illegal, not posting all that stuff in the first place.

So you would have no problem with me posting a lot of stuff about you online so that whenever you were searched for it would link to posts talking about how you committed financial fraud or stole social security checks from old ladies or got caught watching women undress through binoculars (ok, from a quick glance she only accused the guy of doing the first thing, but still, it's an example)? That is pretty much the textbook definition of libel. And I would say that the use of libel in an effort to extort money from someone would also classify as malicious. So yes, it is rightfully illegal.

Re:I think the key... (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566625)

Libel laws are not 'new' laws. But yes, I should've mentioned them in my original post. It tends to be really hard to get a libel charge to stick. I don't know enough about this case to know if it will be easy or not.

Re:I think the key... (1)

Mabhatter (126906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565899)

That's called blackmail is it not?? Or does the law only apply to "illegal" activities? It's clearly extortion because she is asking for money.

The real world has plenty of unemployed willing to break some kneecaps. It's mean to say that, but sometimes things need some "real world" reminders.

Re:I think the key... (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566165)

Wouldn't blackmail be "pay up or I release this information"?

She has already released the information, that is not what she is asking money for.

Re:I think the key... (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566403)

Wouldn't blackmail be "pay up or I release this information"? She has already released the information, that is not what she is asking money for.

I think it has to be true (or half-true) and a secret for it to be blackmail. She's just making stuff up.

Re:I think the key... (3, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566779)

You are right. This is what is called a protection racket. Prove that you can hurt the person, suggest that they pay you for not hurting them.

Only in this case, she didn't just send a heavy to look menacing, she actually did the equivalent of a courtesy working over to demonstrate.

Re:I think the key... (2)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565909)

Yes, lets blame Google. But see how well that human curating worked out for Yahoo. The internet is too large for human curators on search engines. The only workable alternative is to allow people to vote down websites in the site results, but then you are exposing people to another kind of extortion. Imagine a botnet operator demanding money from people to _not_ use their millions strong botnet to vote down your site.

Re:I think the key... (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565931)

larceny and extortion, book 'em danno

Re:I think the key... (2)

Caratted (806506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565933)

It's still slander, and regarding her "reputation services," extortion. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, we don't need any more restraints on speech.

Civil lawsuit, takedown notice, done. The law already works. No story here... besides /. giving Forbes more free advertising.

Re:I think the key... (4, Insightful)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566071)

> Lastly, this, in a small way, Google's fault. Their algorithm is fooled by stuff the human curating process would've had a much harder time being fooled by.

I think the inherent problem is figuring out whether posts made on several websites are made by the same person or more than one person with the same name (or different names + same person, etc.). And even if it's not one person behind the attack, it could be a group of people conspiring to do the same thing (and then you ask where you draw the line between "purposefully harmful" and "honest message that needs to get out").

I don't think a human curating process would be able to comb through as much data as quickly OR be able to do a better job than Google at figuring out whether a set of websites is run by people trying to undermine the spirit and the assumptions that the search algorithm makes or if it's an actual trend that's starting to emerge.

In my opinion, blaming Google would be like blaming a technical solution for not solving a social problem. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to solve the problem, just that blaming it for not solving an inherently hard problem is just too...knee-jerk-like in the reaction. If a bunch of ACs starting attacking you and talking shit about you while criticizing your post(s), you wouldn't be able to confidently say "this is all done by one guy" or "a lot of people have legitimate reason to criticize my post".

The headline is too alarmist anyway for an issue with a known solution: If it was one guy paying off several sockpuppets to go around the town and spread nasty rumours (or just gossip a lot with people who can't shut up about "scandals" over coffee or bridge) about a specific person or group that are false and ask the target/victim to pony up money to squash the false rumours, it'd be a clear-cut case of blackmail and libel. I really doubt there is a freedom of speech issue at all.

Re:I think the key... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567725)

I don't think a human curating process would be able to comb through as much data as quickly OR be able to do a better job than Google at figuring out whether a set of websites is run by people trying to undermine the spirit and the assumptions that the search algorithm makes or if it's an actual trend that's starting to emerge.

See, if I were running Google, I would include a process to request a page or set of pages be evaluated for gaming the system (automated, then human). If they come back as gaming the system, google could then take action. If not, log the user that made the complaint and watch for a war between the two.
 

Re:I think the key... (1)

dumcob (2595259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567943)

"I don't think a human curating process would be able to comb through as much data as quickly" The only reason this is true is Google doesn't allow it. Google can open up its index to developers with unlimited API access. As NLP and datamining tools get easier to use, local developers will create better local indexes than what Google can achieve. Google can then select and merge the best local algo's. In large parts of the world, your only choice when something like this happens, is to go bankrupt.

Re:I think the key... (3, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566317)

I think the key is that she offered to change it all for money. I think that's the part that should be illegal, not posting all that stuff in the first place.

No, they should both be illegal. She should be charged with libel for posting malicious untruths, and with extortion for trying to extract money from her marks by ceasing her libel.

Re:I think the key... (5, Interesting)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566539)

No, that isn't the key here at all. If she simply had decided she didn't like the name of the company and did the same thing, it is *still* defamation whether money was involved or not. The request for money to fix it just adds additional *criminal* acts of racketeering and extortion to the civil charges of defamation. The existing laws here were plenty.

Google really isn't involved either. If I decided to defame you by posting "Caution: Known Cow Fondler" posters with your picture on every power pole in town, do you blame the utility company? No, you blame me and sue me for defamation. Trying to hold a third party responsible because their algorithm was gamed by one person involved in criminal acts is exactly the restraint on free speech that you want to avoid. Hold people responsible for their actions, but leave the tool makers alone.

As another poster here noted: everything is working as intended, though likely with the major wrinkle that the business she sank in her scheme will probably never recover their losses or that $2.5m judgement.

Re:I think the key... (2, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566669)

I think Google has a responsibility to do as much as they can to avoid having their algorithm gamed. But I don't think the responsibility is a legal responsibility in any way. It's a moral responsibility. And ultimately, it's something they need to do in order to maintain their edge in search quality, so it's a fiduciary responsibility as well. But it's not a legal responsibility.

I don't think your power pole analogy as very apt. Google has a lot more to do with the message getting out than the power company does. I think a better analogy would be if your neighbor figured out how to send signals down the power line that blew out your gadgets. The power company should keep that from happening, but it's not their fault from a civil or criminal legal liability standpoint.

Re:I think the key... (4, Interesting)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567139)

My point is that you don't hold the tool maker at fault when somebody misuses their tools. From a business standpoint you're right, they absolutely should make their algorithm as robust as possible. But a tool is designed for a task, there is only so much you can do to design in ways to keep it from being mis-used and it's an uphill battle against diminishing returns. The problem is, once you start saying they have an ethical responsibility to prevent that sort of gaming you end up in a mindset where a lawyer could convince a jury of it and hold them legally responsible *and* it draws attention away from the actual malicious acts by the perpetrator.

Re:I think the key... (1)

dumcob (2595259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567999)

In this case Google can do more. Google can open up its index to developers with unlimited API access. Allow local developers to use the latest NLP/datamining algo's to build better local indexes on top of Google data.

Re:I think the key... (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567991)

Google agrees, that's they the impose penalties [slashdot.org] (even on themselves [slashdot.org] ) when anyone is caught gaming the system.

Re:I think the key... (4, Insightful)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567185)

No, it's entirely the fault of the person behaving badly.

Google takes steps to accou t for people like this, but the system isn't and cannot be perfect. Blaming the tools people use to commit crimes - even if just "in a small way" - shifts blame from the actual responsible party.

If I get a gun and shoot someone, is that, even I a small way, Smith & Wessons fault for making the gun? The dealers fault for selling it to me? The ammo makers fault for selling me the funds? The victims vault for being in a situation where I could shoot them? No. It would be my fault because I am the person who did something wrong. Without me the crime wouldn't have happened, period, full stop.

Now, if you meant to say, "tools like google let people do this kind of thing more easily, I wonder if there is a way to limit the harm bad actors can do without crippling tht tool" then that's one thing. But fault? No, sorry, that's entirely on the person who decided to do the behavior in question.

Re:I think the key... (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567279)

I think the key is that she offered to change it all for money. I think that's the part that should be illegal, not posting all that stuff in the first place. And threatening to post it unless you get money should be treated very similarly.

No, it's still liable; extortion gets added when you ask for money to "fix" the problem. Just because it's an online post does't mean it automatically gets a free pass form existing laws.

Lastly, this, in a small way, Google's fault. Their algorithm is fooled by stuff the human curating process would've had a much harder time being fooled by.

But I don't think we need any restraints on speech to handle this issue.

It isn't a constraint on free speech, she's free to post whatever she wants and suffer the consequences if it breaks the law; just as someone standing on a street corner would be liable for what they say even if they’re free to say it.

extortion? (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565823)

I've never seen a case of where extortion was successfully defended by claiming freedom of speech. Anyone have any examples?

Re:extortion? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566379)

Do campaign contributions count?

Wrong Career Path (2, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565833)

She should have gone into law "enforcement," where behavior such as extortion and slander are just tools of the trade.

Politics would have been an equally viable career choice.

Reserving domain names is now smearing? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565851)

I don't recall seeing those actions previously becoming considering synonymous. Creepy, perhaps. Extortion, quite possible. But smearing? Unless there is derogatory content hosted on there with the intent of associating said content with said toddler, I'm not sold.

Re:Reserving domain names is now smearing? (5, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565947)

Unless there is derogatory content hosted on there with the intent of associating said content with said toddler, I'm not sold.

From TFA: "Perhaps due to the negative attention, Cox took down the content she had started publishing on the nataliarandazza.com site."

Re:Reserving domain names is now smearing? (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565949)

But smearing? Unless there is derogatory content hosted on there with the intent of associating said content with said toddler, I'm not sold.

Normally I would agree with you; however, considering Ms. Cox's prior attempts at blackmailing the child's father (among others, according to TFA), I think it's fair to say that the likelihood that harassment was her intent is pretty obvious.

Re:Reserving domain names is now smearing? (1)

Caratted (806506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565975)

Think of the children! You... you crass bastard.

Your logic and your adblock and your noscript, we don't want your kind here any way.

Re:Reserving domain names is now smearing? (2)

Mabhatter (126906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566109)

And dropping off a severe goat head on somebody's doorstep is just a "present"? Might as well just mail a brown envelope to the guys house with a picture of his daughter with a black "x" in marker... It's just art??

Just remember kids, in certain states protecting your child's reputatution is considered "self defense". Many Western states still make shooting somebody that defames you in the bar only a misdemeanor. Talk about "hold your ground laws"!

Re:Reserving domain names is now smearing? (2)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566233)

If you could shoot people for talking crap there would sure be a lot less assholes running around...

Re:Reserving domain names is now smearing? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566251)

I know it's a typo, but the "severe goat head" thing is rather wonderful! I imagine it giving you a hard look, with its hair pulled back in a relentlessly tight plait behind the horns and its little beard waxed to a point.

Re:Reserving domain names is now smearing? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566709)

Of course it can be smearing.

damn_registraras_rapes_children.com.

So registering a domain name can be a smear.

I think that in this case, the smear' referred to her other stuff she was doing.

http://randazza.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/judge-rules-again-that-blogger-crystal-cox-is-not-a-journalist-you-know-why-because-she-isnt-a-journalist/ [wordpress.com]

child's parent sues bittorrent pirates (2, Informative)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565897)

Marc Randazza. When it comes to free speech, he's a champ. Couldn't agree with anyone more. When it comes to RIAA, he's one of the assholes who writes blogposts about how it's just fine to have huge judgments against bittorrent pirates. Ultimately he's a smarmy lawyer, but sometimes he's right. Like this time. He's dead right to defend his daughter over this. Crystal Cox should probably be sucking some cox.

Source (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565927)

Awesome addendum there, samzenpus.

establishes a boundary for free speech online." (5, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565957)

Well duh. That boundary has existed for over 200 years. It's called libel (ruining a person's reputation through the written word).

Re:establishes a boundary for free speech online." (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565977)

Ah... but now it's libel "with a computer". Quick, patent it before someone else does!

Re:establishes a boundary for free speech online." (5, Funny)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566075)

Ah... but now it's libel "with a computer". Quick, patent it before someone else does!

Prior art: Slashdot.

Re:establishes a boundary for free speech online." (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566121)

Mod parent +SoSueMe

Re:establishes a boundary for free speech online." (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568019)

Prior art:
Usenet
(libeling fellow users since 1980).

Free speech for dummies (3, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566119)

You have the right to express any opinion you want, but you do not have a right to make others' lives worse with your speech. In essence, it's that simple.

Sure, you can write "FUCK" in 10-foot-tall letters on the side of your house, if you can explain the opinion being expressed.

Go ahead and rant about the federal government being too powerful, but expect that others will argue it's not powerful enough.

Proclaim loudly your support for extremist suicide bombers, but don't harass their victims.

This doesn't seem too difficult to me. Of course, you're welcome to express any differing opinion.

OK, let's get this straight once and for all (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566127)

"Free speech" doesn't mean "speech privileged from legal consequences."

I can't keep you from having a website because you're a scuzzy little libeler, but when you *do* libel me I sure as hell can go after you for that.

Free speech doesn't give you the right to slander someone. It doesn't give you the right to disclose trade secrets, or publish intimate details of private persons' lives. It doesn't give you the right to disclose sensitive national defense information, or incite immediate violence against somebody (Spike Lee needs to learn this).

What free speech amounts to is the right to say what you have to say then dare the government to do something about it. Surprised? Well, that's freedom for you. It doesn't come without *risk*.

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566329)

Let's be very explicit about this: freedom of speech means that the government can't put its resources into harming you because you said something someone in the government didn't like. There are significant exceptions to this, all of which relate to speech indicating imminent or on-going criminal activity. Furthermore, you can't lie about somebody.

What it also means is that private entities - corporations, people, etc - are exempt from laws of Freedom of Speech, because by definition, they are not the government, and your relationship with them is voluntary. A corporation can restrict what you say, either because it is paying you, or because you are using its resources and agreed to abide by its rules when doing so.

The risk in free speech is that it's not a free-for-all, and you CAN run afoul of certain laws limiting speech. Anything else is either governed by contract law or terms of service, or is just someone trying to frighting you into not stating your opinion.

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (5, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566371)

What free speech amounts to is the right to say what you have to say then dare the government to do something about it.

No, that's freedom from prior restraint. It's part of the overall concept of free speech, but not the totality of it.

Freedom of Speech is poorly defined, but it generally means that you can say what you want, apart from a few specifically defined instances. Think of it as "default allow" for speech. Basically, if there are no laws against what you are saying, then the government can't punish you for saying it.

That might sound like a truism, but historically, it isn't. Historically, governments have arrested (and imprisoned, and executed) people for saying things they don't like, regardless of what the law says.

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566513)

Basically, if there are no laws against what you are saying, then the government can't punish you for saying it.

It's a little bit more than that. It means that no legislative body can write a law that can punish someone for saying something that offends someone in government, or that someone in government disagrees with. Porn is weird in that area, but... hey, the US was founded by puritans.

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566767)

Actually....nooooo....the government can pass any damn law they want presuming they have support within their ranks to do so, whether or not it is a law that will be upheld is up to the Supreme Court of the land you are in, and or the 'will of the people to rise up and oppose the government'. See for instance the DMCA. That's the part about 'checks & balances'.

Ultimately it is up to the people of a land to either peaceably protest & elect officials that pass laws that are in the best interests of the people...or eventually if that doesn't work, rise up against the portion of the populace maintaining power over the portion that doesn't like the laws that are passed.

In a perfect world a Bill of Rights and a Constitution would be clear & unassailable such that it would be self evident what the government is allowed & not allowed to do such that all bills passed in to law would be easily reviewed against the fundamental rules of the land and be thrown out or upheld immediately upon passing...but that's not how the world works. Until such time that someone gets charged with a crime under the law AND if convicted AND after 'many many appeals' AND the Supreme Court eventually 'deigns' to hear the case (the Supreme Court can reject hearing a case, I would hope it has some rules but I get the impression they can reject it for any reason they like), then the law is the 'law of the land' and you can be arrested, tried, convicted, punished,and have your life destroyed and there is little you can do about it.

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567747)

the government can pass any damn law they want presuming they have support within their ranks to do so

Fair enough. The point though is that an appeal to the Supreme Court is pretty much guaranteed, and until then, it is on hiatus.

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (3, Insightful)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566865)

the US was founded by puritans

and Baptists. and Anglicans/Episcopaleans. and Quakers. and Presbyterians. and Methodists. and Deists. and atheists (Ethan Allen).

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567737)

Atheists were damn rare. Almost as rare today. Deists were much more common among the landed gentry in the latter stages of the colonization, but not really the reason people left the country (Europe). Anglicans were mostly in the US for economic reasons. Not sure about the rest. But the puritans really came to found a better place. For some reason, their approach to morality stuck. Sad, but true.

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566653)

So you define free speech as being free to speak anything unless it's illegal? Because that definition fits almost any activity, and does not provide any protection for free speech.

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568063)

No, I define it as being free to speak, but not to be free from the consequences of my speech. Depending on the consequences that speech may be illegal. It isn't hard to come up with kinds of speech that are and should be illegal, but I can't stop you from engaging in them.

Re:OK, let's get this straight once and for all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567443)

"Free speech" doesn't mean "speech privileged from legal consequences."

Yes, it does. Speech criticising the government in the Soviet Union was subject to the legal consequence of being shipped to the gulag. Are you going to argue that it was free speech?

When there are legal consequences in place, the only truly free speech is anonymous speech.

Easy Fix (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566169)

If it was my kid my wife would go over and kick the crap out of her. Then when we were taken to trial we would present all of the information and count on a jury of our peers to let us go.

Re:Easy Fix (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566745)

Yeah, because you going to jail would really help your family.

How about you put your cock away and try to behave like your in a civilized society with laws, m'kay?

Re:Easy Fix (3, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567311)

Sometimes when someone is being an ass you have to take matters into your own hands.

Exhibit A
http://youtu.be/ZOo6aHSY8hU [youtu.be]

Two can play at this game. (4, Funny)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566225)

As a form of revenge, I'm been spamming the internet claiming she's a steroid-using track and field athlete from a decade ago.

Re:Two can play at this game. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566615)

Please don't. If you do that, there will be false information on the Internet, and if that happens the Internet will become useless.

Douchebaggery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39566227)

knows no gender.

Protection racket (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566581)

I will only charge you 1 quid to not walk in front of your business and be annoying. You can't do anything about it because I am a public right of way, I am moving, so not loitering, and am dressed through not fully and not attractively. Furthermore the metered parking in front of your shop is available to all the paying public, and the fact that I park my five beat up dodge darts has nothing to do with me trying to shut you down.

Of course doing either thing individually, asking for a dollar, or being a nuisance, is not illegal. The two, together, however, would be.

Of this is covered under the RICO act in which multiple acts committed over a certain time period is classified as special criminal activity. In this case it seems plausible that extortion and blackmail may have been committed, and so there may be an RICO violation. It seems that RICO may apply because the internet, like the telephone, is considered a interstate device.

I think anyone, not just journalist and bloggers, deserve the benefit of the doubt when reporting what can be broadly classified as defensible facts, or even opinions. Freedom of speech say that we can go out onto the public pulpit in the public space and say pretty much what we want. There should be few if any restrictions on this.

What triggers a regulatory environment is when we are directly paid for reporting these facts and opinions. In such cases some responsibility should be imposed. If you are paid a million dollars a week to state your opinion though a commercial enterprise, funded by ads on radio, tv, or even google, then those statement should undergo some scrutiny, even be liable to prosecution, because it plausible, even likely, you are being paid to mold commercial allegiances, which is not illegal in itself, but is regulated. I mean if it is illegal for me to make a commercial stating that you will get rich investing in gold(as opposed to saying that gold is rising, so buying gold could be a safe investment), then why is it okay for someone to spend three hours a day convincing the public that the most secure currency in the world is going to fall(inflation has not bee an issue and is not rising) and therefore the only safe thing to do is to call this company that will sell you overpriced gold, that may not even exist.

Not posting my real name on the Internet... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39566703)

...it's gonna pay off once this shit goes mainstream.

Obligatory Grammar Lesson (-1, Offtopic)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567109)

reserving domain names for one of her target's 3 year old daughter.

One of the three... daughters... who are old... that the target... adopted... a year ago?

That is a very ugly and incorrect phrase. First, "3-year-old" needs hyphens when used as an adjective for "daughter". Also, leading with "one of" leads the reader into thinking something in there is going to be plural: either "daughters" (if the target had more than one 3-year-old daughter) or, more likely, "targets", which would form the possessive "targets' " (apostrophe trails the s iff the -s suffix signifies a plural). And mixing prepositional possessive phrases with bare possessives is just asking for parsing trouble.

That link-text is more readable as:

reserving domain names for the 3-year-old daughter of one of her targets.

or, the less likely:

reserving domain names for one of the 3-year-old daughters of her target.

that the target had twin girls, or, if even less likely hyphenation error was misconstrued:

reserving domain names for one of the three year-old daughters of her target.

suggesting the target had triplets, each being one year of age.

Whoever edited that submission needs remedial study.

Re:Obligatory Grammar Lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567491)

Obligatory, shut your piehole. There's nothing more irritating than some person getting in the middle of a thread and derailing the subject by correcting grammar. Please go back to selling oranges by the freeway or prostituting yourself or whatever it is that English majors do to make money.

Oh bla bla bla!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567391)

...establishes a boundary for free speech online.

It does no such thing. What a load of crap. Anything to justify censorship. Fuck off! The speakers' words aren't the problem, the listeners' reactions are.

So when you optimize your searches... (0)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567489)

and you pay for it it's service. But if you do it yourself on your own dime it's a crime. Nice to know.

boo-yah (1)

binarybum (468664) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567695)

A. So who wants to email Crystal Cox with an expensive offer to have this slashdot article removed in order to protect her reputation?

B. Crystal Cox is a good name for a very high end line of dildos

C. Have you seen this person's website [crystalcox.com] ? It only manages to make you hate her more (enough so that you stop caring about the fact that she is also completely mentally ill).

there are worse things (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567823)

Would it be so bad if three year olds weren't so damn delicate? I mean... wouldn't we all be a little better off if three year olds were tougher, smarter, and perhaps took a little responsibility for their online reputations? I like three year olds as much as the next post-neo tech poster/troll, but as often as not they do tend to toddle around like they have no idea what's going on or like they own the place. Maybe a little sand and rock tumbling might smooth their edginess, so the next time they drop their ice cream cone they might not completely self-destruct.
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