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Anonymous Coward Sued for Slander

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the future-of-speech dept.

The Internet 334

An anonymous reader sent us a link to a story where you can read about Anonymous Posters being Sued for slanderous comments made on forums at Yahoo. This ain't good people: I've been trying to keep ACs here for a long time to make it possible for people to speek openly, but the abuses put the whole system at risk. Slashdot couldn't afford to be sued- and we've been threatened several times. I'll be watching this one carefully,

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Attack! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988032)

I'll personally blow up that Financial Firm!

Guerilla AC

Regarding slander (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988033)

The slander law is stupid in the first place. It basically comes down to differentiating the first amendment into a money-friendly part and the part where you actually have the right to free speach that isn't restricted by the first. In the US, guess which is more important: protecting the almighty buck, or protecting the cowardly citizen? The way that money is thought of in the US, this question is a no-brainer.

That's it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988034)

now you are slandering anonymous cowards, for which i have a patent pending....
you'll be hearing from my lawyers..

gnulix! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988035)


There already is one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988036)

See the "Fine Print" part?
I guess that will do it.

USA -- Lawyers' playground

What's worse? Censorship or slander? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988037)

I'm guessing that your idea to censor is worse by an order of magnitude than any slander than might be generated. Honestly, do you think that its better to stop someone from talking just in case they say something offensive?

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988038)

Read the article. The only threat to Yahoo is that it may be supoenaed to give them the email addresses of the 'anonymous' posters. So:

a) the posters are not anonymous
b) if yahoo didn't make people subscribe before posting, then they'd have nothing to worry about.

As we pointed out before you imposed this dumb login process, by adding it you made your legal position *worse* than it was before. If you're concerned about legal action then remove the login and make all posts anonymous. There are clear and well-developed legal defences against action based on truly anonymous posting; it's only when you start restricting posts that you begin to take responsibility for other users' actions.

I mean why do you think that forcing people to set up a throwaway hotmail address to register before they post slanderous comments will make any difference to your legal position?

Of course I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, blah, blah, blah.

Who threatened to sue /. ???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988039)

I'm curious.

OH YEAH!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988040)

I think all posters on /. are wonderful, kind, thoughtful human beings with no criminal histories. I believe that they give generously to charities, that they are comfortable with their sexuality, and that they could pass the MENSA entrance exam with ease.

Hmmm, kind of boring, huh?

52,767 more posts like this should counteract any claims of slander or defamation.

...that won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988041)

First, most people smart enough to post to /. are going to be smart enough to get around cookies.

Second, according to stories here on /. Windows-based browser users are by far the largest percentage of people reading. Even if it worked, you'd be cutting out a huge percentage of the readership from positing. And it wouldn't work, because I'm willing to bet that if Rob put up a rule like this on a Friday, by Tuesday morning someone would be posting an application to Freshmeat that would let you comment independently of your browser.

No, the only real solution is for anonymous cowards to behave like rational, civilized human beings. Unfortunately, this won't happen.

Internet by birth, anonymous by the grace of Rob

A radical proposal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988042)

2. Do a browser sniff and ban Windows-based browsers from posting comments.

I agree that this might keep some of the trolls out of here, but it is really far too easy to mask your browser's identity.

Fuck Y'all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988043)

Come sue me.

A radical proposal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988044)

And why is #2 so extreme? After all, Windows is
proof that if you make something idiot-proof,
only idiots will use it ...

A radical proposal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988045)

I must agree with Ellis-D. I love linux, but cannot find an ISP that will give me the same kind of access that I can get under Windows. This would not not be a problem if I could afford a dedicated connection, but alas I cannot.

Disclaimer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988046)

Just for the hell of it I signed up for posting on the yahoo message boards, using fake everything. There is no confirmation email, you can be conpletely anonymous. Being at a university it is easy to spoof IP, or use Dynamic IP, so as not to know where I'm coming from exactly. I could post like a bastard on the yahoo forms, they could go ahad and try and sue me but it would be impossible to do.. Hopefulle those anonymous posters gave yahoo a bunch of BS information... And it can be a real bitch to track someone down through there IP number, esp. a dynamic IP...

Wade Cook molested me when I was 6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988047)

Seriously though, this reminds me of the "McLibel" suit, when McDonald's sued those british hippies for distributing leaflets saying "McDonald's is evil and hurts the environment and society, here's why." The lawsuit lasted for years, and the hippies ended up getting a fine (which they could never pay.) The hippies then won the appeal. Basically McDonald's just gave a lot of press to their leaflet. It was a royally stupid move on their part, just as this is a royally stupid move on Wade Cook's part. But what do you expect from a KKK grand wizard? ;)

More complicated than apparent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988048)

Exactly, I would suspect Rob has more to fear in the way of slander problems coming from those who _have_ accounts and passwords.

Pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988049)

It's so sad that (speaking as an American) that we take our freedom of speech for granted, that we can't even handle it. we are so immature that we actually have to have laws to make sure we use that right responsibilty. Since I have only lived in the US, i can't speak for other countries, but from what i have heard about China and Middle Eastern countries, we are pretty lucky..yet we some people choose to use for such harmful purposes....

sometimes i am really embarrassed to be human...

i like being AC. it's my abesto flame proof suit...

Regarding slander (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988050)

The slander law is to protect people from rumor and false accusations. Yes, like all laws it can be abused; but that is what we have the First Amendment for: to tell people that a law needs to be changed.
Just remember, the First Amendment gives US citizens the right to say nearly anything they want, on US soil (definately), but you cannot force anyone to listen; which is precisely what censorship does.

...and that law is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988051)

If I am not physically damagine anybody or anything, it shouldn't matter. Time to overthrough some of these stupid restrictions on our free speach

You still don't get it, do you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988052)

AC's are no more anonymous than regular users because YOU AREN'T VERIFYING USER INFO.

For instance, the user called "Anonymous Superhero". Who is that? If he (she?) made a slanderous comment against, say, MS--who would MS sue? Since the email is fake, they would sue YOU, Rob, so they could find an IP or something.

You have this problem ANYWAY, so banning ACs helps not at all (in fact, forcing logins helps not at all as well).

If you would wake up and listen to us all your fears would vanish. Here's how:

1) Allow anyone to put any name they want. This makes it impossible to prove that the same person did the same thing twice (10 incidences of slander from one person is different than one incident from 10 people).

2) Stop all IP logging. I realize this could hurt your ability to track hackers (and maybe demographics), but it also makes you immune from search warrants. You may not have to do this step if you do #3.

3) Create Distributed Slashdot. Put Slashdot servers around the world and allow comments from anywhere to everywhere. Now there is no one to sue.

I realize this post will get moderated out of existence, but maybe some rational people will read it before that happens.

Free speech is dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988053)

Even moderatly free speech (such as a site where a moderator can remove your comments) could be devastating to a business that chooses to ignore it's customers feedback. In one case I know of a company has had so many complaints that it refuses to take better business bureau complaints. On a quick inspection of the better business bureau's site I found no way to read or browse complaints online. If you take away the forum's for a possible airing of complaint, you have to realize that there is no where else for them to go. Also a customer is smart enough to interpret the complaints he read's online. I hate to say it folks, but give the public a bit of credit for intelligence.

Yet agian Big Brother strikes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988054)

I presume the only information logged from this will be my IP/DNS entry, and any other information Netscape sends. So basically the only traceability to me is my IP. Was my IP actually transmitted, or was it some kind of masquerading gateway. How many people were logged into the machine the message originated from? Who sent it? Do any of these machines still exist? Is it really feasible to trace these people?

Wrong-O (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988055)

The US slander and libel laws were created for exactly the opposite reason -- to provide the average citizen protection from being damaged by false or malicious speech. Take a moment to think about it and you'll realize that slanderous and libelous speech is NOT protected under the first amendment.

Also note that in order to be slander or libel a statement has to be false and malicious. Truth is an absolute defense against libel. It isn't slander to say that Wade Cook Enterprises has been investigated by several branches of the government and media concerns, because it has, but it could be misleading and it would be libelous to try to injure WCE by using that to claim that they engage in some sort of illegal practice when in fact no such practice has been proven.

This whole thing strikes me as a waste of time anyway. If I were going to try to clobber WCE or any other company by spreading malicious gossip over the Internet, the first thing I'd do would be to do the net equivalent of putting a handkerchief over my mouth and calling from a pay telephone. I'd make sure they'd never get my real name -- in fact I'd probably work pretty hard to frame someone else so I could get two doses of malice for the price of one.

Hey, Rob!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988056)

Here is a non-biased way of sheltering yourself and Slashdot from problems. Since slander, by definition, occurs when more than 2 parties are present you just need to preface each post.

If you prefaced each message posted with:

"The following comment is my opinion."

you couldn't be held liable for anything. It is legal to say anything about anyone in front of anybody so long as you preface it with, "In my opinion."

After all, these comments are opinions that belong to the poster, whoever that may be. Your disclaimer doesn't provide the same amount of protection.

Pay systems only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988057)

Sorry, unless you're willing to give Rob your credit card number, it wont work.

Requiring a fake name on an account doesn't keep people from being anonymous. Collecting a subscription charge, however, would help considerably. Besides, large companies will help push through such legislation in all major countries. It will help thier income to cut out "pirate" services like Slashdot.

Just wait, the USA will probably require stronger authentication like they did with the old BBS's (bulletin board systems) before the web was popular. So much for the web as we know it.

Then again, PS# might have helped here. Oh well.

A radical proposal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988058)

Exsqueeze me? I'm not an idiot just because I use NT. I use NT, because Winblows and Mac are the only platforms that run my programs that are necessary for my business.

If software manufacturers ported there software to Linux, I'd be using linux, but that day hasn't come. And even then, there are some companies who'd NEVER port their software to linux.

They are not suing Yahoo! 'cause... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988059)'s got money up the yin yang, The company would get fucked over a hundred times in countersuits, if they sued a big company like yahoo, they are going after the small players cause its easier to win against someone who is not strong enough to defend himself.

Wade Cook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988060)

The following is my OWN OPINION. It may or may not be true.

I would expect this action from Wade Cook financials. They are yet another "Get Rich Quick"
outfit. It appears they are trying to sue some "John Does" who shouted the "Emperor has now clothes!" -- now why would they be sensitive to that cry?

Go underground (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988061)

All right everyone. We need to keep working on anonimity on the net obviously....
We need to work on a completely anon. way to surf, post, e-mail, etc... This is ridiculous and we must fight! Take up your encryption! Take up your spoof! Take up your cheezy hot mail accounts! AnOn. remailers forever!!!

Damn I hope they don't find....
Was that a knock on the door?

Regarding slander (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988062)

I disagree that the slander law is stupid in the first place, but just horribly misplaced. Under the current law, a "public figure" has no protection, while everyone else does. A newspaper could print "Mr. Black, while not sodomizing goats, enjoys his time spent in the cess pool under his house." and if you're a public figure, you have no recourse. However, there is no clear description of what a "public figure" is, and it basically amounts to if a newspaper wants to write about you, they can, and they can lie or err with impunity.

Most pussyfooted of you, Sir Robin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988063)

What the hell is wrong with you all? "I'll talk bad about big business for months on end until one of them turns their head and before the fight has begun, I'll be turning my tail and running."

Anon C.

the irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988064)

Hello all--

Just wondering, if you were on a jury where they called Wade Cook dishonest, would you call that slander????

I guess I would be pretty circumspect if I were Wade Cook. I really wouldn't want to be party to a lawsuit. . .you know, that discovery thang.

Just curious, does anyone know how many states have filed lawsuits against his firm (CA is one I know about).

My $.02.


Dummies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988065)

browser sniff??

Just look at the "about" page. Most pages are served to Windows clients.

Come to think of it, instead of just announcing "Anonymous Coward" by anonymous posts, put their browser and operating system there too. In fact, why not post their entire cookie file and their PIII id number, if they have one. Maybe their IP address, too.


A radical proposal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988066)

I've been using linux since 1.2.8, but I'm forced to use NT at work, which is where I /. Banning posts based soley on the OS used isn't going to help anything. Most programming jobs are windows based. Just because I need to pay bills doesn't make my posts pointless drivel. Trolls are everywhere. For every 'linux sux M$ rox!' post there is a corrisponding 'MEEPT uses gnulix'.

Regarding slander (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988067)

This and the previous comment about slander needing to be false and malicious aren't completely accurate. If you are a private citizen it is sufficient for the information to be false to allow suit for slander (you must zlso show that the misinformation was damaging.) If you are a public figure, then you must show that the spreader of lies was malicious in addition. If you were to post something like "So and so the public figure boinks bimbos in the cesspool every night before smoking crack" I don't think the lawyers would have a very hard time convincing a jury of your malice.

Hard to track IP addresses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988068)

You start treating IP addresses like the Intel PIII fiaco-ID and you will KILL free speech on the internet. No one will log on for fear Big Brother will come after them for any honest, but less than flattering, comment. This would snowball into a dramatic decline in internet use and the failure of many of these "net startups". Then you have a negative economic effect. Is that what you really want?

Wade Cook displays himself has a stock-market version of a snake oil salesman - a common huckster. He should just suck up and deal with it or get a better PR person to prevent people from thinking he is such a twit!

How can you even effectively prosecute rumor mongering? Lets see... a reporter writes, "an anonymous source indicated that President [...] was improperly using a cigar with [...]". The reporter can say that because of our right to free speech. I'll be damned - he ended up being right!!!

By the way, slander is intentionally making knowingly false statements about another person. So do we all get to sue Clinton's friends, lawyers, and associates for trashing anyone involved with the Lewinsky deal?

TCP/IP addressing should not be used as a tool to help big, wealthy, powerful elitists to attack and destroy average people!

{{ whenever a politician starts preaching about my rights, I start taking inventory of what I have LEFT }}

Regarding slander (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988069)

You're wrong. Free speech is one thing, but it doesn't say that you can say lies without being responsible for what you say. A simple example follows:

You are in a movie theatre, packed with other people. Someone decides for fun to scream "Fire". In the resulting panic some people get hurt. Who is responsible for the panic?

Free speech doesn't protect you from this, and doesn't protect you from the consequences when you make false accusations.

The dictionary definition of slander is:

malicious gossip
hurt (someone/something) with slander.

Accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988070)

Accountability is not the issue. Saying anything that offends a psychotic reader or a company with bored lawyers opens one to attacks that nobody should have to endure.

If you have free speech, you have people telling lies as well as people telling the truth. The way it is now in the offline world, it seems that only the rich have the right to lie. Should we encourage this on the Web as well?

Wrong-O (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988071)

Okay, so according to your posting, you are allowed the first ammendment as long as what you are saying is true. And who determines what is true or not, the Government? And don't tell me tha t the justice system is blind. That is total BS. We are living in a capitolistic society, you are kidding yourself if you don't believe that money makes this world go round.

I am not anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988072)

I am not anonymous, most of my posts have my email and name attached, but I do not like leaving an unambigous digital trail behind wherever I go. Thus I disable cookies, use L:cypherpunks/P:cypherpunks, and perform other operations to insure that I remain 'legally' anonymous.

Sure, I don't mind leaving my name behind on most of my posts, but the moment you require me to create an account online that could be legally (or unambigously) linked to me for any reason is the day I stop posting and perhaps also leave

Also, I use AC because it would be too inconvienent to do otherwise, I use multiple computers, log in from anywhere, and do not like cookies.

AC exists for those who are lazy, who are usually lurkers, those who use a large number of computers, or those who do not want to leave huge electronic trails online that may be harvested. I am all 4 of those. Or, it is used by people who wish to remain anonymous. If you want to cut down on the noise, find a technique that will cut down on the noise (moderating or something else), don't restrict posting privledges.

Besides, the moment you do that, some will create a cypherpunks/cypherpunks login to slashdot. As people from here do to other sites which try to pull this type of a stunt.

Scott Crosby

Its not morality thats the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988073)

Basically what you are saying is that you think it is wrong from a more-or-less moral or value-oriented position. But that view is irrelevant. A mass murderer has the same rights as anyone else. He could say whatever he wanted about how he killed people.... and you could say how much you are against it. But doing anything else, like censoring him would definately be against the first amendment.

The Constitution, if you have forgotten, is a precursor to ALL laws that might be passed afterwards. You CANNOT have inconsistencies. If slander is not outlined in the Constitution it cannot affect the laws of the Constitution. Just because someone is evil, or malicious, or lieing, or personally harmful is irrelevant. Thats all morality. What you are trying to suggest is censorship.

Censorship is a bigger wrong than anything that slander could ever do. The Constitution was explicitly designed so that censorship would not take place. Right now, slander is relative between the offended and the offender. If you added censorship to the picture it would be between you to the committee and from them to the offender with a different version. If you want to say 'FSCK YOU!' to someone should you have to go through an arbiter who changes it to 'Mr. X appears disgrunted'?

Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988074)

PS: You Americans, go see 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' (released in theatres across the States last Friday). It rocks.

I think you mis-spelt 'sucks'. It looks ugly, has a dull script and rips off many movies by much more talented directors (e.g. blatant ripoffs of 'Goodfellas' and 'Trainspotting' in the first two minutes). Of course if you think that Tarantino is a refreshing, creative, talented director you'll love it.

Why not consult a lawyer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988075)

It's dandy that we can all sit here and express our legal opinions and end with a disclaimer, but if Rob is seriously concerned why not pay for a short consultation? I'll contribute some money towards it, I'm sure many other will as well.

My personal feeling (hey, I put my disclaimer above), is that you shouldn't have added login stuff at all.

You still don't get it, do you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988076)

>If you would wake up and listen to us all your fears would vanish. Here's how:

Better advice:
Listen to a lawyer, instead of those of us who play a lawyer on the net.

the irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988077)

Wade Cook ... Dishonest ... ha ha ha ha ... you're killing me. That's about the tamest thing you could say about the guy. A friend of mine really got taken by his stuff.

check out these links for more info. Personally, I think that the lawsuit is just a publicity stunt. I mean he mentions Yahoo and all of a sudden he gets tons of press coverage. They guy is a clasic flim flam artist. ook.html [] aying.html [] es/1997/sp971006WadeCook97.htm []

- Anonymous Coward

I don't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988078)

By posting that information, it only seems to encourage bigoted responses by elitest users. How many times have you seen "Oh, your comment means nothing because your a Windows/AOL/IE user"-type responses? It's kind of nice to have that garbage filtered out.

-Lord Crass

Exactly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988079)

I've been saying the same thing all along.

The important thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988080)

The important thing here is that Yahoo! (read: Slashdot) is not being sued, they are only being asked to turn over all the information they have about the users. Simple enough. And Free.

...and that law is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1988081)

so give me your real name and email address, i will start posting lies about you (kiddie pornographer, arsonist, affairs) all over the place....try to find a job or a date or whatever....especially if you work for a living, we could email everyone where you work....or post it in a local newspaper, or if your in school, the school paper.....yeah, slander is just fine...

Bad comparison - Politicians more vuln. (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988217)

The reporter can write just 'bout anything they want to about someone in public office unless they know it not to be true.

Someone running a business... well... then a whole lot more limitations on what you can say kick in.

I agree--and /. has responsibility too (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988219)

Posted by HeyPartner:

The way it is in everyone other medium, if you are going to allow the voicing of opinions, you are exposing yourself to subpoenas when people abuse your medium with malicious lies that do harm. A big part of slander is proving "harm". If /. is subpoened to release a name when a proven lie has done proven harm, you have the same responsibility as a content provider in any other medium (newspaper, TV, radio). Chances are, you will be sued. I doubt that will happen at /. But imagine you being maliciously attacked at say eBay for selling bad goods. When in fact, you never sold anything yet, can prove it, and it turns out some oligopoly is trying to divy up the beenie baby market by shutting everyone else out through slanderous comments in other sellers profiles.

It is eBays responsibility to cooperate in stopping that. How can it be any other way?


Finally (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988221)

I've got to agree with this. People should take responsibility for what they write.

A right to free speech is NOT a right to irresponsibility.

A radical proposal... (1)

Kurt Gray (935) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988223)

Simple solutions to increase the signal/noise
here on ./

1. Do not allow Anonymous Cowards to post more
than 3 comments. After 3 comments, you must create
a user account. If your browser has trouble with
cookies then too bad!

2. Do a browser sniff and ban Windows-based
browsers from posting comments.

OK, #2 is extreme, but I think #1 is a reasonable

Ban all ACs!!! (except Alan Cox, of course...) (1)

TedC (967) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988224)

I don't want people to lose their rights to free speech, but they should be responsible for what they say.


Free speech without accountability is just noise.


Bad Idea (1)

Christopher Craig (1394) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988227)

Do not speak the "C" word here. The last thing Slashdot needs is FCC regulation as a common carrier. Don't declare it as one or even hint that it might be one.

Of course.... (1)

Chris Mikkelson (2363) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988231)

Being forced to take "responsibility" for what you say can, in some cases, be the same as being silenced. Whistle-blowers would have a much harder time under a no-AC situation.

Internet Anonymity (1)

adatta (3240) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988236)

This is a problem that faces many many Internet Service providers and one I faced when I ran Big companies with big pockets (or even individuals with deep pockets) can easily harass a company for the identity of their users. And its difficult for little startups and groups of users to defend themselves against this without going broke. It's just a symptom of the litigious nature here in USA... I'm more and more tempted to move servers overseas.. though of course they can still get you personally if you live in the states... Can't win....

*sigh*, here we go... (1)

Chakotay (3529) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988238)

I've seen this coming for a long time. technology has rushed faaaar ahaid of the law. there will be more and more of these privacy and copyright cases that are caused only because the law hasn't caught up with the software industry and the internet yet. it's the wild west out here, and in this wild west the law is also just one of the cowboys...

the Gods have a sense of humor,

More complicated than apparent (1)

MrSpock (5029) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988242)

Rob, I don't think you have too much to worry about. First, the plaintiff in this case is not after "Anonymous Coward", but instead after specific pseudonymous posters, like "CmdrTaco" or "MrSpock". Though IANAL, I'm a law enthusiast, and am relatively sure that so long as you take reasonable measures to keep slandrous comments out of /.-space, and have a mechanism in place to deal with them, then you should be relatively safe (assuming, possibly incorrectly, that you would be able to stand up financially and fight in court).

I like AC's (1)

cthonious (5222) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988244)

While I think the AC concept does hurt the sense of "community" at /. (everyone is anonymous and no one ever gets to know each other here, unlike the BBS' of the early 90's).

But it does allow people to post things they might be otherwise too embarassed to post. I think that is probably more important.

OH YEAH!? (1)

alumshubby (5517) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988246)

Kitchen table works fine for me and Mrs. Alums...


Cosmo (7086) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988250)

This is AWESOME. I LOVE IT! You've gotta be fuck'in kidding me! This is one of the funniest things I've heard all week. I think this is great! Some ALL MIGHTY law firm pissed off by a couple of guys fuking around with their dinky little yahoo uids.

Maybe I'm the only one that finds real humor in this, but I think it's priceless.

A radical proposal... (1)

vanye (7120) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988251)

Even more radical, ban ACs.

If people don't have the guts to put their name to a posting, its automatically of dubious provenance.

While ACs may have some use (whistle-blowing), to hide behind them for illegal activities (slander/libel are illegal, even in the US) should not be seen as acceptable, and should be pursued in law if all else fails.

Of course I don't expect anyone to agree with me, this is afterall /., where any AC can post stupid infantile comments.

America, land of the lawyers. (1)

thinker (7404) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988253)

If you need a lawyer to defend your company
against claims made by a bunch of yahoos on
Yahoo, you have something to hide.

Grow up.

The mature thing to do is to offer considered,
well substantiated facts in rebuttal to each of
the posters' claims, if they bother you so much.

If they do, see paragraph one.
"The Internet interprets censorship as damage,

Anonymous Coward, yahoo Etc.. (1)

hal-j (8004) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988257)

I read through the article, and it seems that they named the Anonymous posters as defendants. Interesting concept, since they don't know *who* the posters are. They talked about getting the data from Yahoo, but if Yahoo's system allows for truly anonymous commenting, that data may not be easy to get, if it's possible at all. I know PalmStation.Com [] logs *nothing* about anonymous commentors. The only way I'd be able to track anyone down, if I were to be asked, would be to look in my server logs, and find the IP of the person who posted a comment at the exact time that the comment in question was posted. While this may work for something posted recently, I dont have logs for anything other than the current month. I can only imagine that /.'s comment system works similarly for anonymous people.

It's already there (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988267)

The disclaimer has been in place for a long time, see the FINE PRINT at both ends of the comments

A radical proposal... (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988268)

I wouldn't ban them.

It would be interesting to list the browser and OS in the comment header, just to see who is using what.

That does it (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988269)

You've slandered the GNU/Linux^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Lignux^H^H^H^H^H^H er, Linux name. Tux is not happy with you and is speaking with his lawyer.

Please Clarify Re: Yahoo (1)

Cassius (9481) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988274)

People on Yahoo weren't just calling each other names - they were former employees of a company who were making statements about their former employer which may be considered illegal within SEC rules.

Yes folks, the law does curtail your right to say whatever you want, in certain circumstances.

This is OLD fucking news (1)

The Dodger (10689) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988277)

#1 - Slashdot could claim immunity from being sued for a slanderous comment by an AC as a 'common carrier'.

#2 - This is OLD news. Slashdot ignored my submission [] , as usual, about half a week ago.

As for Anonymous Cowards, the comments posted in reponse to the (bullshit) story about the UK satellite being taken over by hackers, confirmed for me that Slashdot's usefulness as a place where interesting and informative discussion takes place, is severely compromised by ACs.


PS: You Americans, go see 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' (released in theatres across the States last Friday). It rocks.

Go Overground! Do UDI! (1)

The Dodger (10689) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988278)

Why not find a country where the owner of could never have been forced to reveal anyone's true identity, and set up a box there?

Oh yeah - money.

Okay. How's about we declare independence as a virtual nation and establish an "embassy" in the form of a broom-cupboard-sized room in a Telehouse somewhere with a few Linux boxes.

I can see it now. Slashdot - the world's first virtual nation. It would have to be a Republic, with a President as Head of State (first one would be CdrTaco, OF COURSE!). An elected Cabinet, led by a Prime Minister (i.e. a Minister who can't be factored! ;), with Ministers for Bandwidth, Disk Storage, Processing Power, etc.

Argh! Shades of The Diamond Age's CyrptNet. :)

The Dodger
Minister of Offe^H^H^H^HDefence.

"No, I'm not planning a military coup, honest..."

It's sad (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988285)

You get a spinless whiner with money and a lawyer and they love to threaten lawsuits. All it amounts to is a pissing contest and he who has the biggest wang wins, the problem is that the lawsuit will be impossible to win unless the person suing can explicibally prove that they lost money from that exact comment. Unfortunately the law doesnt state that if you sue someone and dont win you have to pay your and their court costs plus a $20,000.00 pain in the ass fee for bringing up a stupid lawsuit to begin with, payable instantly or 2 months in jail and then payable 30 days after that. That would be a great law, like one that allows clients to cane their lawyers when they mess up. oh well we live in the land of the free where the judges are lawyers and perpetuate the rich are in control plan.
(you're poor? GUILTY! rich? ohhhh your' just a victim.. Lawyer? naughty! you got caught! try to hide your illeagal activities better next time!)

Ohhh I remember that one! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988286)

back in the 80's we had a Free speech BBS here, it was like /. except there was no login at all you connected and you're in. they were sued for some commment, when the judge looked at the evidence he told the person suing that life's a bitch, and awarded the defendant the counter suit of loss of money. ($5000.00) The judge said that it's a BBS just like a Bulliten board or telephone pole. you cant sue the phone company for something posted on a telephone pole.

Post browser/OS at least (1)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988287)

I agree, but just the browser and OS should be tacked onto each person's post. The ip serves no purpose but to show hackers who to smurf when they disagree with you.

I believe you would be protected... (1)

FallLine (12211) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988292)

I believe that slashdot would be protected under the standing parts of the CDA. In fact, you may expose yourself to liability, only IF you make an attempt to censor slanderous conduct. Basically it is not reasonable to expect you to monitor the behavior of private individuals. It could, and has been, argued rather easily that expecting web sites to censor would have a chilling effect on free speech. The only argument I could see is if you POSTED, like on the front page, an article that you knew to be false, and somehow made commercial profits by intentionally republishing this inflamatory content. Anyhow, I've gotta run, but I can show you some precedents when I get back.

A radical proposal... (1)

Paranoid (12863) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988297)

Can't we all just GET ALONG!!! :)

OH YEAH!? (1)

Paranoid (12863) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988298)

All readers are wonderful (in bed and out of it, on coffee tables, etc), never have or have had a Bad Day (tm), stay crunchy (even in milk) and live on planet Earth! They're even DYNAMIC!

We should have a poll asking which household object people most prefer to !@#$ on.

Hard to track IP addresses? (1)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988311)

Actually it shouldn't be that hard to track down who owns a dynamic ip address. If you are dialing in then the dialup server knows what ip address it gave which user id. If you are using DHCP then the DHCP server knows what machines had which IP addresses when. Maybe dialup servers and DHCP don't keep track of this information but it doesn't mean they can't very easily. Tracking people down through their IP address isn't that hard. And if companies start bringing lawsuits you can bet more and more people will track IP addresses to help limit their liability.

Finally (1)

stealthbob (15597) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988313)

We knew this was coming. I don't want people to lose their rights to free speech, but they should be responsible for what they say. Using the AC system people can just make shit up and never have to validate their claims. If your gonna say something have the balls to put your name on it.

A radical proposal... (1)

jkdufair (16805) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988317)

It won't work. I submit my three (possibly slanderous) posts and then wipe my cookies file. Voila! Three more posts.

Jason Dufair
"Those who know don't have the words to tell

/. would be (relatively) safe here (1)

jkdufair (16805) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988318)

Yahoo itself is not being sued. As far as I can tell, /. has no means of identifying the real identities of ACs. That doesn't leave the poor company much to go after. Right?

Jason Dufair
"Those who know don't have the words to tell

A more radical proposition. (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988320)

I try to be nice here on /. I figure it makes Rob's job a little easier. But this post is the most absolutely lame (technically and idealogically) proposition I have read here.

Item #1 has been dealt with: cookies in this case don't offer anything really useful at excluding technically competent AC's from doing (content wise) idiotic posts. Secondarily, if a user's browser doesn't support cookies (correct me if I'm wrong here, people!!), logging in won't help because the user info wouldn't move from page to page.

Here's my own RADICAL PROPOSITION: All Slashdot posters (myself included) should use the 3 pound computer between their ears to consider what it takes to make Slashdot a site worth reading BEFORE mindlessly wasting our time by hitting the submit button with stupid posts. Therefore I would submit that:

  1. First Poster comments are worthless.
  2. Expletive laden comments aren't worth reading either.
  3. Bad-mouthing an individual online is bad karma. What goes around comes around.
  4. Reading other people's posts to avoid lame repetition of other's comments saves all of us time in the long run. Post sparingly.
  5. Suggesting that /. alienate the 80,000,000 or so people who happen to be stuck using a M$ box is not only extreme, but bad for the site as a whole.
Even though Linux is good and getting better, and is already a whole lot better than the opposition in some areas, it's not the only game in town. I am paraphrasing C.S. Lewis (the book Mere Christianity) in saying "we may disagree with others in the house, but our job is to look for ways to work together rather than ways to stand divided." Linux/Slashdot/any software project improves in direct proportion to the number of users who are available to find problems with it. In the meantime, don't piss on the Windows User community. Recruit and train them instead.

...and that law is b------- NOT!! (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988321)

Tell you what, AC. You start a company, work for several years to get it going. Then I'll go up on the 'Net and post all sorts of lies and "inside stories." No law against it, so your company starts to lose money.

Hmmm. You say... this ought to be against the law. Coulda shoulda woulda been...

I reiterate one more time: think before you post!!

Will they never learn? (1)

ottffssent (18387) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988326)

unmask the John Does?!?

I have a geocities acct that lists my address in LA. I live in WI, and used various sites to get the correct ZIP and area codes for "1234 Main St."

There is no way to trace these people if they seriously want to be annonymous.

Does this remind anyone of 3rd grade? (1)

dmw (18915) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988328)

Seems to me this is possibly a case of "Mommy...Tommy from next door called me a stupid fatso." Don't get me all means, this guy has the right to be upset for the slander. But why can't he respond in a reasonable, adult manner? And besides, my understanding (insert obligatory IANAL disclaimer here) is once someone is a public figure, they lose the right to sue for slander. Might the case be made the CEO of the company is a public figure?

Slander? I think not. (1)

King Ruin (19011) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988335)

Hmm.. this raises yet another interesting question. Is this even really slander? I would say not.

The dictionary defines slander as: a false and defamatory oral statement about a person

Note; I didn't hear any oral comments tbrough my computer -- did you?

Bah. why don't they just go watch more tv?

A radical proposal... (1)

Praxxus (19048) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988337)

Yeah, that would work.

Hi! My name is Ben Simmons, and I live in Moultrie, GA.

Sure, you can trace my IP address and at least start to suspect (if, that is, you know where is located physically) that I'm full of crap, but how to prove it?

Banning AC's won't stop people from posting anonymously. Or rather, it won't necessarily make them post honestly.


*tsk tsk tsk* (1)

Praxxus (19048) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988338)

#2 is extreme because there are an unfortunately large number of /. readers that are forced to use Wind'oh!s based crap at work.

Or, as someone else mentioned, some people can't get connected to an ISP via Linux.

Currently I fall into the former category, but I'm thinking of switching my desktop machine over some evening "after hours" and seeing how long it takes my bosses to notice. heh heh


That does it (1)

Arandir (19206) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988339)

You have GNU sense of humor, do you? I'd say something about rms, but I just realized I'm not logged on anonymously.

A radical proposal... (1)

tuefry (19505) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988340)

How about instead, your browser/OS/IP address gets tacked onto every message? That should prevent a few people from flapping their jaws.

It would also be pretty useful, for when /. gets flooded with the tilde?? users who come here to do nothing but misinform :-).

Identifying users (1)

Beef (19842) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988341)

It's hard to get real users' names when people can just

Go to a public library

Get a free anonymous e-mail address

Post to Slashdot, Yahoo, Usenet (though Dejanews), or whatever.....

What are they going to do, fingerprint the keyboards? Subpeona the librarians?

Disclaimer. (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988342)

Make a disclaimer about how /. is not responsible for the users actions.

Disclaimer. (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988343)

Ooops. I just I forgot about the "fine print"..

A radical proposal... (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988344)

#2 I think that could be a cyber rasict statement..
There is nothing wrong with what OS a user uses.. Get over it.. We shouldn't be hating each other becuase of the OS we run.. You might run linux, one may run mac os, one may run nt.. That does make a diffrence at all.. The windows user might be more technolically advanced than the Linux user.. (There are some...)

A radical proposal... (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988345)

Wow, someone agreed w/ me!!! Hahah.. Well I run 98, NT and redhat in my house. I use 98 as my main os becuase I can support all my wierd hardware and my software. Also I have been running it for a longtime and I just don't want to switch my main unit over. I would run my linux box all the time, but it's not working with the nic. It's a Sparc IPX box if I remeber correctly with a 210 hd (I would be using a 1gig, but I can't get rid of the Netware format off of it from the redhat install) P.S-> If anyone has anyhints, please send them!!

Dummies. (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988346)

Ok.. What's is an IP going to do? Those can be spoofed.. Also remember dynamic accounts.. Ect. ect.. I beleive the net is it's own lil' country (world) and it's a free one and that anything that happens on it should be void and null from laws of countries. Government should not take control of the net due to my beleives.. It should a complete anarchy.. =>

A more radical proposition. (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988347)

I believe that people should work together to intergrate the program for all the os communities. You have to think about how each community help each other with the advances in code and hardware.. A simple competition.

Arrgggg (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988348)

You can't patent names.. You can make it a (R) or (C) but you can not patent..

AC ISP! (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1988349)

Goto my homepage and look under virtual servers, I have a link to a anonymous ISP. .
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