Vmyths threatened for using mi2g press-kit photo

Security experts lose sense of humour

I can hear it now. "Damn that Rosenberger; I'm sick of him deviating from the press releases. Set the lawyers on him."

That, or something like it, must have inspired a nastygram from the security gurus at mi2g, a well known FUD generator full of dire predictions concerning withering cyber-assaults which for some reason rarely seem to materialize.

Indeed, the only withering cyber-assaults I know of associated with mi2g are Rosenberger's own relentless caricatures of the company's press releases, publicity stunts, and founder, DK Matai.

But these, apparently, have always been taken in the spirit of good fun, and in the spirit of Irish writer Brendan Behan's knowing observation that "the only bad publicity is an obituary."

Until lately.

Now it seems that Vmyths founder Rob Rosenberger has found the proverbial last straw and laid it on mi2g's back. It appears to be composed of two elements: a nasty tendency for search engines to bring up this page instead of this one; and a photograph of DK Matai cropped to show his forehead with a bruise which Rosenberger vaguely suggests may have come from eating a pretzel and passing out, as happened to a certain Superpower Commander-in-Chief whom we all know and love.

"Please remove any reference to mi2g which you cannot back in a court of law by 22nd July 2002," mi2g Intelligence Unit person Jan Andresen warns. "Our reputation is being damaged by the appearance of "the mi2g controversy" on the number two rank of every single search engine like google, altavista and yahoo (where you have no specific conclusion to offer other than cause damage to our reputation in a baseless way)."

(Actually, if you Google for 'mi2g' and 'controversy' the Vmyths coverage now comes up as number one.)

But there better approaches to this page-stats problem than lawsuits. "You ... may want to improve your search engine placement for marketing reasons. Major search engines will sell you better page ranking (or sponsored links) when someone types 'mi2g+criticism' in the search field," Rosenberger replies.

Then there's the picture controversy. "We consider your publication of DK Matai, our CEO's photograph, without authorisation to be an infringement of his privacy." And later, "We repeat our request for you to remove the photograph of DK Matai from your web site(s) immediately. We have not granted permission for you to display it publicly," Andresen goes on.

To which Rosenberger answers, "We did not violate your founder's privacy when we published two of his press photos. We acquired the first photo from your press page (still available ... if you'd like to see it). Your firm sent the second press photo to us, unsolicited, along with a copy of your founder's press bio."

Indeed, it's hard to imagine what 'privacy' one can expect when photographs are routinely included in press kits. Would Matai demand as much 'privacy' in a puff piece by USA Today, one wonders?

And Rosenberger even offers an alternative to litigation, with a publicity boost for a kicker. "We stand by our criticisms of mi2g & its founder. However, Vmyths prides itself for an industry-leading "corrections & clarifications" page. Please write to VeaCulpa@Vmyths.com to contest our claims & accusations; please write to Letters@Vmyths.com to rebut our opinions & criticisms."

A perfectly sporting chance to prevail and set the record straight, it seems to us.

We should point out that Rosenberger is by no means insensitive to the responsibilities of those dishing out satire and ridicule. "I really do sympathize with employees when I bash a company. People want their jobs to make a difference, and yet my criticism could very well put them all out of a job. A critic needs to remember that individuals will take their corporate criticism very personally. If mi2g goes under because of me, I know it will affect every employee," agonizing, as usual, with profound Christian sensitivity and humility.

"A critic always benefits from the threat of a lawsuit," Rosenberger warned Andresen. And indeed, one just has. ®

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