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Four years ago, when I initially set up the first Internet law department in the UK in my old law firm, Bains Cohen (now called Pinder Reaux) , people thought that an internet lawyer was one who gives legal advice over the Internet.

This is because in the UK there isn’t and there has never been an official area of law which is called “Internet law”. Today everyone understands what I do. Simply put, I get rid of bad or negative internet webpages.

Despite some great achievements, sometimes moving more than one hundred reviews in one go, my work has become more challenging each day because bad faith reviews and professional defamers become more sophisticated each day, making the distinction between an innocent review and outright defamation harder to make.

We have (virtually) traveled across the globe from Russia to the United States from Uzbekistan to Mexico from Turkey to Canada  in our quest for solutions to our clients’ personal and business reputation problems. It is now obvious that  internet defamation is actually a big business for many people who directly benefit from having outrageous reviews publish on their websites.

We call these people ‘The Complaints Barons’ because their websites which are  dedicated to  complaints/defamation sometimes become a breeding ground for blackmail and extortion. The ‘Barons’ have the power to remove articles from their website but they only agree to do so if you pay them money.

Internet defamation is used by some as a mean of extorting money (through PayPal mainly) and all is being done very openly and without fear of the law.

Over time, issues of internet defamation have started to become more and more urgent for my clients, mainly because of the speed by which internet search engines are now delivering search results, which means I have found myself acting more and more as a troubleshooter rather than a conventional lawyer. The law alone, cannot solve all the problems in the world and internet defamation has gone far beyond being a legal issue for many. Fighting it has become for them a matter of survival.

Internet defamation has now become such a specialist area requiring legal, technical and general people’s knowledge and understanding in order to get the most difficult internet law issues resolved.

Defamation against my company on forums

Read part 2 of the Business Reputation Management and Social Media series.

Read part 3 of the Business Reputation Management and Social Media series.

Read part 4 of the Business Reputation Management and Social Media series.

Read part 5 of the Business Reputation Management and Social Media series.

Get in touch here. Internet Law Experts Contact

The Internet Law Centre

By Yair Cohen

 
 

Internet trolling has become an epidemic. After the conviction of Sean Duffy I was hopeful that his prosecution and conviction will deter others from harassing innocent members of the public on the internet.

Unfortunately I was wrong. It will be difficult to argue that the conviction of Sean Duffy has made a significant impact on the numbers of internet trolling in the UK. In fact, what we are experiencing in the past 5 months since the conviction is an intensification of the problem.

There is a general belief, which unfortunately is supported by strong evidence that the criminal justice system is not equipped to deal with such matters mainly due to lack of resources. We have evidence to indicate that some police forces, may even have a policy of sending individuals who complain about internet trolling home, without even registering their complaint in the books, let alone conducting any sort of investigation.

How to stop internet trolling

“The only long term solution to the problem of internet trolling is for the government to establish a body with judicial powers to make it easier and cheaper for individuals to have the identity of their trolls revealed to them.”

Increasing sentences or giving police more powers without first dramatically increasing their budget to enable them to deal with this whole new area of policing would be a waste of an opportunity.

What we need to do is to make internet trolling socially unacceptable. At the moment internet trolling is a past time for many, otherwise decent, people. It gives bored individuals something to do and it is no longer part of a sub-culture. There is sufficient legislation in place and the bottle neck is clearly at the point where identities need to be revealed and not at the Magistrates’ Court.

The only long term solution is for the government to establish a body with some judicial powers to make it easier and cheaper for individuals to have the identity of their trolls revealed to them. This in effect, will make anonymous posters think twice before engaging in any such criminal activity and will bring back accountability to the system.
remember to watch (particularly if you have children)!

BBC’s Inside Out programme has investigated the latest rise in internet trolling. Watch it on Monday 06/02/2012 at 19:30 on BBC1 (London) or on BBC I player.

Speak soon

By Yair Cohen

 
 

On Monday 23 January 2012, a High Court Judge in London ordered INTERNET giant Google Inc. to disclose to a UK claimant, data and personal details which it holds in relation to a user who utilised Google’s Blogger to spread defamation against a UK based businessman.

Google was told to have information, which includes the blog owner’s user name, email address and IP address disclosed to Yair Cohen  previously the boss of  Bains Cohen who was acting for the claimant, who is fighting for defamatory content about him to be removed from the American based Blog.

Google will also need to supply information about the Gmail account associated with the creator of the Blog as well as other data which will help identify the anonymous user.

A further order to have a Claim Form against Google Inc. served outside the jurisdiction was also granted by the Judge, opening the possibility for a future injunctive claim against Google, as a party to defamation proceedings in the UK.

It is believed that this is the first time that such an order was granted by a UK court in relation to defamation proceedings concerning a UK based victim .

Google had 21 days to comply with the order.

Yair Cohen, the lawyer representing the Claimant, said: “This ruling may signal the beginning of a shift in the behaviour of internet users who can no longer be allowed to hide behind a cloak of anonymity. I am confident that we will now achieve the removal of the defamatory blog from Google’s Blogger.”

The Internet Law Centre for business

 
 

The simple answer is that, yes, it is possible to remove web content from Google and quickly and here is how to do it.

You do need to bear in mind however, the recent data which was published by Google which shows the type of requests to remove web content that Google is likely to accept.

And although the data shows that there have only been a handful of cases where Google had agreed to remove web content from Google products, one thing is certain – Google, pretty much guarantee to adhere to court orders which means that an appropriate court order can resolve internet defamation matters fairly quickly. And because these applications for court orders to remove web pages from Google products are becoming more common and are hardly ever being contested by Google, the costs of obtaining them has become much more affordable in recent months and it is likely that the costs will drop further as the process is becoming more and more of a routine.

This is good information to have for anyone who is involved in any sort of business or has been the subject of a recent threat of internet defamation against them. Unfortunately we have now reached the point where almost everyone under this planet is a potential victim to some sort of internet defamation threat, which means we are pretty much all in this together.

Internet defamation expert

I have seen the devastation that online defamation brings from all different angles. From being the subject of it myself and through the experiences of small and independent businesses, as well as of  large organisations including international franchises and PLC companies. I have seen the pain in the eyes of a couple who owned a small family business for almost 15 years just for them to see it all collapsing in front of their own eyes as a consequence of a serious online reputation attack by a disgruntled employee who they had made redundant due to a previous incident of breach of trust.

This is why, some time ago, I made a real commitment to share my unique knowledge and experience in this very niche area of the law – “internet defamation” with as many business people as I can. My blogs are read by thousands of people every month and some of my work has been featured in business publications such as Forbes and Bloomberg Business Week.

In my blogs I have given many case studies covering a variety of businesses and situations and am updating this information all the time. This gives business owners and managers across the country an opportunity to learn from the experiences of similar businesses on the internet, so that they can now prevent and deal effectively with internet defamation. Perhaps one single piece of information that you read in one of these short case studies could one day make the difference for your own business.

I now post all the latest case studies and short tips about internet defamation on Twitter so if you were ever wondering how Twitter can help your business, follow me on @cyberlawexpert and enrich yourself with very useful information on internet defamation.Yair Cohen on Twitter

Best wishes,

 Yair Cohen

By Yair Cohen

 
 

internet_law_expert
Because the internet is a world of extremes, success and failures could literally happen overnight.

The speed by which you can have web pages listed on the first pages of Google could bring immediate and substantial amount of money to your business, literally overnight. The same speed however that leads to this immediate success could cause complete devastation to business owners who find that their reputation has been tarnished almost overnight.

The good news however, is that ‘easy come easy go’ normally works both ways which means it is possible to make negative reviews and defamatory web pages disappear to obscurity, where hardly anyone will ever view them. Speed and strength are keys to success and tasks of removal of negative reviews or defamatory web pages should not be undertaken half-heartedly.

The fact that almost everything on the internet is changeable and movable should be somewhat comforting to victims of online defamation, online reputation attacks and online harassment. Having the knowledge that nothing on the internet is set in stone gives people a real hope that their reputational issues could one day be resolved.

And if you are a victim of online defamation, online reputation attack or online harassment, you can also take comfort with the fact that search engine results are nothing but a function of volume, relevance and popularity – all of which can be created artificially by techniques such as Defensive Manipulation™ which tend to focus on demotion of internet web pages using all available means.

Furthermore, because of the very high volume of information which is posted daily on the internet, what appears to be a big problem today, could be made to disappear tomorrow and today’s hot topics are likely to have very little impact on future internet searchers. In fact, if you carry out an internet search on almost any subject matter, you will struggle to find internet pages which were posted before 2008.

And finally, a last bit of good news to victims of online defamation. Online reputation attacks and internet harassment. It appears that people are getting lazier by the day, when it comes to internet searches. Search results on the first page of Google receive 89% of the clicks, results on the second page receive 4.37 of clicks, results on the third page receive 2.42%, results on the fourth page receive 1.07% and results on the remaining pages receive a total of less than 1% of the clicks.

This means that on 93.3% of occasions, people find results which appear on the third page of the search engine irrelevant to their search, so in future they hardly bother to go that far.

This in fact is good news for anyone who suffers an online reputation attacks because it means that most online reputation attacks could be defeated or at least be pushed down to obscurity.

New Stalking Bill To Stop Internet Stalking, Online Harassment and Social Networking Bullying

The new Stalking Bill might bring some good news to the tens of thousands of good, innocent people who find themselves victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying every year.

The new Stalking Bill must take account of the fact that internet stalking, harassment and bullying have become such an epidemic in recent months, with some people being driven to committing suicide because they cannot take the pressure and the shame any longer.

The police is almost powerless to help victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying because of the high costs of such investigations, as well as the costs of the extended legal process which the police is required to undergo prior to even being able to commence a serious investigation.

Ask any police officer who has got some experience in such matters and they will tell you that identification of the suspects of internet stalking, harassment and bullying constitutes a major stumbling block in even commencing an investigation. It is very difficult to investigate anything on the internet without knowing who you are investigating and without having a right to even basic access to the evidence, or, in many cases with very restricted access to the ‘crime scene’.

The new Stalking Bill should make access to identifying details of internet users who are engaged in online stalking, harassment and bullying much easier than it is at the moment.

At present, the state of the internet is one of complete anarchy. Social networking sites, blogs, forums and discussion groups are attracting ‘online rioters’ of the worst kind who (quite rightly) believe that there are no consequences to their actions.
They hide behind a veil of anonymity knowing that it will be almost impossible (especially to a vulnerable victim) to ever smoke them out. Anarchy spreads fast, so it is not surprising that we are now seeing an increase in the number of victims of internet stalking , harassment and bullying.

The new Stalking Bill is a golden opportunity for the Government to start controlling and to possibly, dramatically reduce the number of incidents of internet stalking, harassment and bullying that are devastating the lives of innocent people and their families every single day. The new Stalking Bill is an opportunity for the government to introduce ‘Online Social Responsibility’, by making access to details of those who commit these terrible acts of internet stalking, harassment and bullying, easier.

Just as with the case of the London Rioters, once the internet anarchists realise that there are in fact consequences to their antisocial behaviour and that they can be smoked out and brought in shame to justice, the number of victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying will be reduced dramatically.

In fact, many victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying will be hoping that the government will go even further with the future Stalking Bill to make access to personal details of online stalkers easier, quicker and cheaper, not just for the police but also for regular members of the public who are victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying. The Stalking Bill should help to create a system for obtaining Identification Orders which will help victims resolve their matters through the civil courts without the need to pay expensive legal fees and without taking valuable resources away from the police.

Yair Cohen

 
 

MARY CAROLAN
Irishtimes.com

The owners of the Ballymascanlon House Hotel in Co Louth have taken a legal action for damages against internet giant Google alleging defamation of the hotel’s business and reputation via Google’s web search service.
It is alleged Google had permitted, since about March 14th 2011, the term “receivership” to automatically appear after the hotel’s trading name when a search is carried out in the autocomplete suggestions in the search bar. This suggested the hotel was in receivership or financial difficulty when it was not, the plaintiffs claim.

INTERNET giant Google has lost a landmark legal battle that is expected to open the floodgates to online litigation against anonymous online commentators.

The Supreme Court in Australia ordered Google Australia to reveal details of the owner of a website which named an entrepreneur and self-help guru Jamie McIntyre a “thieving scumbag”, the Courier-Mail reported.

It is understood the website was not one of Google’s Blogs and that Google had obtained personal details of the owner of website through its advertising program.
 
Travis Burch, a private detective who was hired by Mr McIntyre to smoke out the website’s author so he could sue for defamation, said yesterday that it was “a good day for people who don’t frankly want to be defamed on the internet”. “We’ve done a lot of work in this area and identifying and pushing trying to expose people and tracking them down through records that they leave on the Internet,” Mr Burch said. “Having a win in courts just means we’re a couple of steps closer to bringing the person to a form of justice.” He added,“the content that appeared on that website and (has) been promoted through the website is blatantly defamatory.”
 
Australian Barrister John Bryson said he believed this was the first time legal action of this kind against Google had been successful in Australia. “People need to know that they can take on the big companies, the major players, and get a win,” Mr Bryson said.

Reported in the CourierMail.com, leading communications law academic Professor Michael Fraser of the University of Technology, Sydney, said “The internet is a mainstream channel of communication now so it can’t just be like the wild west outside of the rule of law.” He added, “people can’t … be allowed to hide behind a cloak of anonymity…”

In a statement which is encouraging to victims of online defamation around the world, including UK victims of online defamation, Google Inc confirmed that it will always comply with the laws of the jurisdiction they operate in and so if a court requires them to provide the information, they will.
 
UK leading Internet law expert Yair Cohen of the Internet Law Centre  said today that “although English courts are not obliged to bind themselves by decisions of Supreme Courts in other jurisdictions, decisions such as this could still be influential on our judges, who have very little local precedents available to them to help them come to the right decision in such cases of online defamation by individuals who choose to remain anonymous.
 

Tell us what you think!

IF YOU POST ONLINE WHAT IS CONSIDERED BY THE SUBJECT OF YOUR COMMENTS TO BE A DEFAMATORY COMMENT – WOULD YOU BE HAPPY FOR YOUR IDENTITY TO BE REVEALED?
SHOULD FACEBOOK, GOOGLE AND OTHER OPERATORS OF SOCIAL NETWORKING BE COMPLETED TO PROVIDE PERSONAL DETAILS OF THEIR USERS SO THAT THE COURT CAN DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT YOUR COMMENTS WERE DEFAMATORY?
IS IT RIGHT OR WRONG TO POST ANONYMOUS ONLINE REVIEWS ABOUT ORGANISATIONS AND BUSINESSES?

Write Your Comment Now!

 
 
 
 

Yair Cohen Social Media LawyerBy Kit Chellel Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) — People who use fake names to post critical comments about companies on websites may not be as anonymous as they think, as firms use the courts to unmask online accusers. MoneySavingExpert, a British personal finance site with 5 million readers, was forced to hand over personal details about three users calling themselves Againstjpc, GomerPyle and Ladybirds, following a London court ruling in August. The three wrote comments on the website accusing JPC Group Sales Ltd., an affiliate of a U.K. publishing company, of being a “criminal enterprise” and “a scam,” the company said in court filings.  Read More

In a first case of its kind, Magistrates’ have jailed a man who posted abusive images to online memorials dedicated to dead children. The man was jailed for 18 weeks and was banned from participating in social networking for a period of five years.

At Court, Sean Duffy, 25 from Reading, admitted to posting images on Facebook and YouTube, making a mockery of the deaths of four children, including 15-year-old Natasha MacBryde who committed suicide.

Duffy admitted to the court that he had posted a video on YouTube called Tasha the Tank Engine shortly after the teenager was found dead on a railway line near her home in Worcestershire.

Paul Warren, the Chairman of the bench which sentenced Duffy, said: “This case serves to illustrate the harm and damage done by the malicious misuse of social networking sites.”

The court heard that Duffy, has been suffering from alcohol problems and has Asperger syndrome.

This prosecution was brought under section 127 of the Malicious Communications Act 2003 which made it an offence for a person to use public electronic communications networks, such as telephone and internet to send or communicate grossly offensive material to others, as well as to send or communicate material which is offensive, indecent or obscene.

This law (section 127 of the Malicious Communications Act 2003) is unique in the sense that the offence is committed upon the act of communication and a person would be committing the offense even in the event that the communication was not received by the intended recipient or was intercepted prior to anyone actually taking offence to the subject matter.

This latest prosecution of Sean Duffy at Reading Magistrates’ Court may signal the beginning of a new line of prosecution by the police of internet related offences,  which will be great news to tens of thousands of UK victims of internet defamation and abuse, and in particular to those vulnerable victims who are not in a financial position to be able to afford expensive civil proceedings.

Can a criminal court judge force a defendant to remove harassing and defamatory internet posts? The answer to this question might be surprising. Read Removing harassment from the internet

Cohen Davis facilicate another online harassment conviction

Yair Cohen, Internet  Law Expert

Author: Yair Cohen

 
 

bains cohen solicitorsIf at the moment the battlefield where you fight for your good reputation is based online and those on the other side, appear to have a reasonably good understanding of the battleground and of the basic tools and ammunitions which are required to cause you maximum damage, you might want to seriously consider moving the battlefield elsewhere where it will be harder for your reputational enemies to fight back.

In other words, so long as the battle is fought online, your reputational enemies feel that they have almost supernatural powers to orchestrate deadly reputational attacks against you. Remember, the online battlefield is a magical world, where single individuals can replicate themselves continuously and where cowards may turn fearless over-night, just by staring at a computer screen.
Instead, if you turn the light on your reputational enemies, you will at once strip them of all their supernatural powers.

By simply declaring that you have decided to move the reputational battlefield offline, to the real earthy world, you will be able to get rid of almost all your reputational menaces.

By Yair Cohen

UPDATE TO Grooming Of Men On The Internet. Seriously…..

Further to the warning issued by Yair Cohen in March 2011, this is the latest  ALERT:

“The traps appear to involve attractive Eastern European or Middle Eastern women”

We have recently been instructed by a number of men who have fallen victim to an advanced honey trap set by a gang operating in various online chat rooms, targeting men over 40 years old.  In particular, this has been emanating from the Lycos 40+ chat room

The traps appear to involve attractive Eastern European or Middle Eastern women, whose online profile/account is up to 3 days old.

The chat is always instigated by the woman who would quickly suggest a video chat.  During the video chat the issue of nakedness is raised by the woman, who routinely offers to take her top off, a few minutes into the chat. She then encourages the man to strip off naked and pleasure himself in front of the camera.

The woman captures the video on her pc and then abruptly cuts off the chat. Minutes later, she sends an internet link to her victim, for him to view the video featuring him online. This is always accompanied by a payment demand of between £300-£1,500 to be paid immediately by paypal.

We have seen evidence that failure to adhere to the extortion has resulted in an almost instantaneous viral dissemination of the video, with links appearing on popular websites such as YouTube, Blogger and Mefeedia.com.

Most video host websites tend to remove the offending material once notified, but the cached pages (an image of a previously live webpage) may still appear on the internet for many months together with page titles such ‘John Smith paedophile/sex offender etc.

In most cases it is possible to speed up the process of removing cached pages but this might require expert intervention.

bains cohen solicitorsThere is an old saying that “the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging”. If you discover that your online reputation has been tarnished on a rough website and that bad results are appearing against your name upon every Google search, do yourself a favour and overcome the natural tendency of constantly clicking on the link to the bad result.

A defamatory remark on the internet is similar to a toothache – we feel almost a compulsive need to touch and feel the pain – in case it has already gone without us noticing it.

Sadly, with defamatory remarks on the internet, the more you click the more powerful they become. Google gives priority to popularity. So every click makes the bad comment more dominant and in Google’s view also more important, which means that the defamatory remark will constantly be climbing up the search engine results with more people seeing it.

When people see a link to a defamatory page against them, they tend to tell friends and family about it with the result that the link to the bad comment becomes very popular. The more people who click on the link to see what is being said about their friend/family, the more likely it is that the link will remain at the top of the search engine. So remember that the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging.

An internet law expert will use special tools to examine the link and the defamatory page regularly without actually adding to its popularity. So if you are unfortunate enough to have enemies who have taken upon themselves to defame your character online – make sure you don’t tell the world about it and take legal advice from an internet law expert as soon as possible. ”

By: Yair Cohen

There is a big difference between traditional defamation law solicitors and the modern online defamation lawyers. Defamation law and online defamation law are arguably two very distinct areas of law.

This is why, with all the best intentions, old- fashioned defamation advice in relation to online defamation can sometimes backfire, in the sense that even if the case is won at court, the defamation still remains online and can even increase in volume.

Internet law and online defamation law are not subjects which are taught at law schools. They can only be mastered by constant usage and by plenty of practical experience.

Read More on Choosing an Online Defamation Solicitor

 
 

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Dedication

Years of Internet Law Experience