Feeds

Man sues over chatroom humiliation

AOL failed to stop abuse, claims 'victim'

SANS - Survey on application security programs

An Ohio man who claims that he was humiliated by two other participants in an AOL chatroom has sued the two men for causing emotional distress and the ISP for failing to stop the alleged abuse, according to a report from Law.com.

The case, which is due for a hearing in an Ohio court today, is said to be the first of its kind.

According to Law.com, Medina County resident George Gillespie sued Mike Marlowe of Alabama and Bob Charpentier of Oregon after the two men began teasing him online.

Reports suggest that the teasing then ventured out of the chat room and into the real world, with Marlowe travelling from Alabama to Ohio in order to disrupt Gillespie’s mail service by handing a change-of-address form into a post office.

Other reports suggest that Gillespie was himself indulging in a little “banter” in the chatroom, making fun of Charpentier’s girlfriend, and posting a picture of Charpentier’s home online.

"This guy is just a character, and his BS finally caught up with him," Charpentier told the Akron Beacon Journal. "This lawsuit is just another form of harassment."

"I'm so flabbergasted with this because this has been blown out of proportion," Marlowe told Law.com. "We just made fun of the guy."

AOL has not commented on the action, other than to point out that it has a code of conduct governing the behaviour of its members, and that this is strictly enforced.

Commentators are sceptical as to the likely success of the action.

In the US, ISPs such as AOL are generally immune from liability under a provision in the Communications Decency Act which grants immunity from suit to those who provide material on the internet that was written by others. While most of the Communications Decency Act has been struck down as unconstitutional, this provision survives.

It is also very difficult to show that postings online have caused harm.

Most of the US cases in this area relate to defamation actions. In one recent case, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that a council official, suing over remarks posted online by an unknown blogger, could force the blogger’s ISP to reveal his identity. The official first had to prove that the remarks were capable of a defamatory meaning – which he failed to do, according to Chief Justice Myron Steele.

“Blogs and chat rooms tend to be vehicles for the expression of opinions; by their very nature, they are not a source of facts or data upon which a reasonable person would rely,” wrote the Chief Justice. He added that plaintiffs harmed by a blog have an instant remedy available: blogging themselves.

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Ex–Apple CEO John Sculley: Ousting Steve Jobs 'was a mistake'
Twenty-nine years later, post-Pepsi exec has flat-forehead moment
Number crunching suggests Yahoo! US is worth less than nothing
China and Japan holdings worth more than entire company
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.