Defamation Legal Advice Blog

Harassment injunction on anonymous user served via social media for the first time

Harassment injunctions legal advice

Harassment injunctions lawyers

Who said that the courts are not catching up with social media?

For ages there was a rule that said that injunctions had to be served through conventional methods, mainly because of the serious consequences for breaching them.

This rule prevented individuals (notably many celebrities among them) who were victims of harassment on social media, from obtaining an injunction against their faceless abusers as the injunction could not be served properly via conventional methods.

Until as recently as last week, the only remedy for the abused person was to quit Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with their tail behind their legs, which often was the only practical advice given to them by lawyers and the police.

This meant that the internet trolls were able to get away with harassment and abuse, carry on finding new victims or abuse the same poor victim on another social medium.

But this situation has recently changed when I asked a High Court judge to allow my firm to take advantage of new rules that permit for service of injunctions by alternative methods. The judge accepted the application and permit us to serve an injunction on a faceless abuser, via the very same social media she was using to harass my client. Read full post on injunctions served on social media

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Hegglin v Google at the London High Court

The case of Hegglin v Google at the High Court in London is reported to have been settled following the Judge’s criticism of Google in the previous hearing. Hegglin wanted Google to stop displaying highly defamatory websites about him on Google search results, not only in the UK but on Google worldwide.

So far, Google has taken the European right to be forgotten to only apply to its European searches and not to www.google.com.

The case of Hegglin v Google seems to have widened the scope of the right to be forgotten to worldwide internet searches as well.

After Mr Justice Edis said in a previous hearing that there was no real dispute between the claimant Mr Hegglin and Google over the fact that the allegations against Hegglin of serious criminal behaviour were untrue, the judge questioned the validity of the legal defence put forward by Google. The Judge did not agree with Google’s contention that www.google.com was not widely used by individuals in the UK.

The case of Hegglin v Google was being watched closely by many individuals who have outstanding disputes with Google over its display of defamatory information about them on search results.

Discovering identities of internet users who post defamation on the internet

The Evening Standard reported today about Paul Britton, a web developer who used his SEO skills to defame a former client. The web developer pleaded guilty to harassing his own client by creating a derogatory website about him and was told by a Crown Court judge at Kingston Crown Court that he might go to jail when he gets back to court for his sentencing hearing.

Paul Britton, of Turnham Green Terrace Mews, Chiswick, who owns the web design and online marketing company Origin Design, embarked on a campaign of defamation and intimidation against his own client following a dispute over an outstanding invoice of less than £200.

Professional web designers who go online to defame their own clients understand the web very well and know how to avoid detection so it is difficult to prove that they created the defamatory website and it is almost impossible meet the standard of proof that is required by the criminal law which is “beyond reasonable doubt”.

The case of the web developer Paul Britton seemed no different. Paul Britton purchased the domain name he used to defame his client with false credentials and he also gave false information to his USA based hosting company, GoDaddy. He then used Paypal to pay for things so as to avoid leaving any digital footprints. Finding waterproof evidence against seemed almost impossible.  The police in such cases are unwilling to spare resources to try and gather evidence because the quality of the evidence might be too poor to be presented in a criminal court.

It is however possible for anyone to gather themselves the necessary evidence, preferably through lawyers who will secure the integrity and the quality of the evidence, and then work in co-operation with the police to secure a successful criminal prosecution against an online offender.

The case of Paul Britton is an excellent example of such co-operation:

In this case, we worked together with the Metropolitan Police to gather the evidence needed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Britton created the defamatory website against his own client.  For a criminal case the evidence has to go far beyond the discovery of IP addresses as those only prove links between computers but tell you nothing about the computer’s user.

In the case of Britton, to prove his involvement with the defamatory website we had to gather evidence that included telephone records, recordings of telephone conversations between him and his online service providers as well as information about passwords that he used to access his online services and accounts. To secure invaluable evidence quickly we issued subpoenas in various US States that compelled  GoDaddy, Paypal and other online service providers to hand over even more important evidence.

We handed all the evidence to the Metropolitan Police, whose dedicated officers arrested and charged Britton with harassment. Having been confronted with the evidence, Britton had no choice but to confess.

He will be sentenced in January at Kingston Crown Court.

Defamation Legal Advice

Defamation legal adviceIf you are being defamed on the internet and your reputation is at risk, you want to have the defamation removed from the internet before it spreads.

As a first step, remember not to click on the link of the URL that contains the defamatory material because clicking on the defamatory link will only make the web page rank higher on Google search results.

It is best not to tell too many people about the defamatory material as they are likely to search for it and click on the defamatory link. To create a copy of the defamatory web page, save it as PDF and make a coloured hard copy of it.

There a are special commercial tools that allow you to carry out Google searches without affecting the prominence of the offending web page and we suggest that you use those tools if you intend to try and resolve the matter yourself.

We have many more defamation lawyer’s tips on how to deal with online defamation crisis and more defamation legal advice at the Internet Law Centre.

Breach of privacy legal advice

Breach of privacy legal adviceAbout 2 years ago a challenging case was landed on my desktop. 15 years earlier a young model in had intimate photographs taken by her then boyfriend who later posted them online.

Subsequently the boyfriend agreed to remove all the images and the matter seemed to have been forgotten.  Many years later, the images reappeared on various websites.  The young model was now a primary school teacher and the damage to her personal being and her reputation was immense.

It transpired that the ex-boyfriend had nothing to do with the reappearance of the images. After some investigations the culprit turned out to be a time machine. Yes, a real time machine.

Read about the WayBackMachine that captures websites as part of a mega archive project on defamation lawyer blog.

http://www.defamationsolicitor.co.uk/2012/12/websites-never-die.html

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