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Masseuse tries to sue newsgroup poster pester

But doesn't know who sent round the dirty old men

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Professional massage therapist Kristine - Krissy to her friends - Jackson has filed a lawsuit against a newsgroup poster that has disrupted her business. The only trouble is she doesn't know who to sue.

Ms Jackson is keen to track down "Auslandur" and "The Mayor", the Cincinnati Post reports. They have posted messages on a private newsgroup making suggestions about the extent of the services she offers. Krissy noticed something was up when she started getting some unusual clients.

While most of her customers are women and usually referred by local doctors, these new clients were men and their behaviour was different to what she is normally used to. In the court papers, Krissy says she believes "all of these new referrals come to her in the hopes of receiving sexual favours in exchange for money".

Her suspicions were confirmed when she was sent an anonymous email message detailing conversations in a chat room, led by Auslandur and The Mayor. Now, she says her business is damaged because she can't determine which customers are for real and which want something "a little extra".

The legal question is: who published the untrue material and how do you stop them for repeating it? Ms Jackson has tried to sue AOL, the ISP - Sinsinnati.com - and the two users. AOL's policy is to contact users before passing on details of a lawsuit - something that it is still trying to do.

Her lawyer is particularly keen to find Auslandur. But then this quest has been further hampered by the ISP going out of business. Also, since it was a private chatroom, location is made that little bit harder. It looks as though Ms Jackson and her lawyer are beginning to accept they may never get their pound of flesh. They are asking for the messages to be removed and copies of all of it forwarded to her so she knows what was said.

While it is difficult to hide a smirk, you do have to think about the implications that the Net may have against ordinary people. Completely untrue and defamatory statements could be made, without comeback, and read by large groups of someone's peers. And there are some bitter people out there. ®

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