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Online Defamation Defence Tools

Creating a basic blog, with information about the services and products that your business offers, can help you create defence shields all around your business reputation.

You can start your own business blog in minutes using WordPress or Blogger and turn it into a very powerful weapon in your fight against online defamation.

If you post information about changes, updates or offers, which relate to your business or your particular industry, you will have an endless amount of information to write about, without the need to be super creative yourself. With every post that you dispatch on the internet your reputational defence shields become harder to penetrate. Post regularly and your blog will be established by the internet search engines as a source of fresh and relevant information, which means the content of your choice will be prominently viewed by your target market.

If however, you decide to take no action, this prominence within the search engines is likely to be given to posts about your business, which had been despatched by others, possibly by your enemies.

Internet defamation solicitor

By: Yair Cohen

internet defamation

you start to find that more and more defamatory material is mushrooming on the internet without fear. At this stage you know that you have become a live target.

Disgruntled employees are in fact, responsible for much of the online defamation postings. Not surprisingly at all, the more inflammatory the internet postings about your business are, the quicker they tend to spread – by blogs, web links, twitter, Facebook, emails and other electronic means.
You see, some of your employees are likely to possess impressive amounts of knowledge about you, your business, your practices, your procedures, your errors, mistakes and regrets, as well as about your true feelings about things that matter to your customers. And if the above was not enough to unsettle you, following your initial shock of being defamed online, you start to find that more and more defamatory material is mushrooming on the internet without fear.

At this stage you know that you have become a live target. You get hit left, right and centre and with very little opportunity to defend yourself. A close friend or one of your customers, who for some reason decided to remain loyal to you then tells you, rather embarrassingly that your customers are being sent emails with links to websites which contain terribly unpleasant allegations about you and that often, these allegations are ‘backed’ with some ‘insider facts’, which are aimed to damage you and your business as much as possible.

These ‘insider facts’ are beginning to add strong elements of reliability to the largely defamatory posts about you on the internet. Then, all of a sudden the phone stops ringing and the bookings dry out. Your instincts are now telling you without a shadow of a doubt, that if this carries on for another short while, you will need to start thinking very seriously about making some redundancies in your company due to the sudden drop in business.

In the meantime, the online defamation attacks are starting to increase. Links are being shared between people and more defamatory material is now being posted by people you did not even know or ever heard of, as well as by past customers who having read the original defamatory posts, are starting to feel aggrieved themselves about their own experience with you or with your company. What a nightmare. Former employees can initiate some very powerful and effective online reputation attacks. The level of detail that they give about your business in their defamatory posts, gives their campaigns the level of credibility that normal negative online reviews don’t get.
But the worst is yet to come. The internet defamation campaign then catches momentum almost at once, at the moment where your former employees decide to release their well crafted Google Bomb.

They use stolen confidential data, which contains your complete mailing lists, of possibly thousands of contacts, leads, customers and past customers and they simultaneously email them internet links to take them to the defamatory posts about you and about your business.

At this point in time, the damage to the  reputation is very often beyond repair. To minimise the possibility of you being a victim to a devastating online reputation attack, you must tackle any issue of potential or actual online defamation by an employee or a former employee with a great deal of decisiveness. Don’t allow yourself to be held to ransom. Appeasement does not normally work.

But there are a few simple steps you could take from the outset to reduce your exposure to online defamation by employees.

First, always remember that even some of your most trusted employees could one day turn against you so choose very carefully who you invite to work in your organisation. Often, though not always, ‘troublemakers’ can be identified very early on in their employment days. Always look for signals of disgruntlement by employees and deal with these signals appropriately.

Second, share sensitive information with care. If sensitive information about your business, your customers or the way you handle them finds its way online, then you could be in serious trouble for obvious reasons.

Third, restrict access to sensitive data, particularly to your customer’s mailing lists. Keep these lists in a safe place, preferably password protected. Don’t make your full mailing lists freely available to your employees and certainly not in a downloadable form.

Fourth, make sure that your organisation fully complies with all the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. If you neglect your legal obligations to protect your mailing lists from being stolen, you could find yourself liable to criminal prosecution. This is the last thing that you or your business organisation will need to deal with.

Fifth, make sure that your employees are aware of the fact that you take an uncompromising approach towards breaches of Data Protection laws.

Sixth, place a contractual requirement for your employees to comply with Data Protection laws and spell out in their contracts the fact that breaches of Data Protection laws could constitute a criminal offence.

Seventh, if you have evidence that an employee had been downloading sensitive business information for their own use, deal with the issue immediately. Challenge them and remind them of their contractual as well as statutory obligations.

Read more about Defamation by employees

How To Destroy A Reputation In 5 Minutes. Don’t Repeat At Home!!!

Everyone has got their own soft spot. Depending on your profession, being called by a particular name in public, could cause you a lot of damage and harm your career. For a doctor, being commonly described as ‘negligent’, for a solicitor, being described as ‘incompetent’, for a builder, being described as ‘a cowboy’ or for a teacher, being described as ‘stupid’, would be regarded by any of these people as a personal attack on their reputation and integrity.

But not all insults are as harmful as the insult suffered by a top civil servant who worked as a social worker for the Children’s Service at a District Council in the North of the country. Having specialised for many years in children with learning difficulties and having achieved a tremendous professional respectability within his County Council and beyond, Stuart Granville (not his real name) was surprised to find out from a colleague that upon searching his name on the internet, the top three results that came out were news stories about social workers who had been jailed having been convicted of offences involving child pornography.

The news stories were not about Stuart Granville at all, but for one reason or another, they appeared at the top of the search pages against the search term ‘Stuart Granville’. The implications of this, as you can imagine were very serious for Stuart. The association of his name, as someone who has been working with children, with articles about convicted child molesters were damaging to him beyond comprehension.

Stuart immediately became concerned about his career and later on about his personal reputation and it was not long before he started to fear for his personal safety as well as for the well-being of his family. Stuart did not have his own website, in fact he was not allowed to have one because of the delicate position that he held within the Children’s Service, which meant that the vacuum which was on the internet against his name, was filled by someone who wanted to harm his career and who had the know-how on how to associate a name with an article.

So who did this and how was it possible for one individual to cause so much devastation to an innocent and a very respectable member of the public? We will come back to the question of who did this in a moment. But first, let me show you the incredibly simple technique that was used to inflict such damage on Mr Granville and his family. The technique that was used in this instance to attempt and trash Stuart Granville’s reputation is incredible in its simplicity and is one which any individual or company should be aware of.

The trick that was used here is called Tagging. Think of tagging as a description of an item. The purpose of tagging is to make it easy for internet search engines to associate an article or a product with certain keywords.

The best way to understand tagging is to forget for a moment about the internet and think instead about a can of Coca Cola. If you were asked to tag a can of Coca Cola with the most relevant words that come to mind, most people will say ‘red’‘fizzy’ ‘cold’ ‘can’ ‘drink’ ‘refreshing’ and so on.

Now, think about this article that you are currently reading. How would you tag it? Or in other words, what would be the best way to describe it in simple short words? I would say, the first words that come to mind are ‘internet law’ ‘tagging’ ‘social worker’ ‘online reputation’ ‘reputation attack’ and so on.

In the internet world the tagging helps the search engines to associate a word, or a phrase with a product or an article. A tag can be added to any article which is posted on the internet by its publisher and sometimes also by third parties, if they are given permission to do so by the publisher. So tagging is simply a series of keywords, which aim to describe an online item, whether a product, a service, a news story or an educational material.

The publisher of the webpages, which contained news articles about a social worker who had been convicted of sexual offences involving children, had tagged each of these articles with a ‘Stuart Granville’ tag and from this point onwards, whenever an internet search was being carried out (particularly using Bing and Yahoo), the search engine made an association between Stuart Granville and the news articles which were tagged with his name.

This process of copying a news article and publishing it on the internet with damaging tags could be done in less than 5 minutes. It can however devastate people’s careers, families and reputation permanently.

Simple? Yes. Powerful? Most certainly. In any event, tagging is something to be aware of and to keep at the back of your mind at all times.

As for the perpetrator of this reputation attack on Stuart, Stuart believed beyond doubt that this was a parent who had had her children taken away from her by Social Services following a serious allegation of abuse. At the time, she promised Stuart, who had been in charge of the Social Services Team which intervened and took the child away from his abusive mother, that he will live to regret the event. Stuart however, has never been able to prove who this person actually was. To be fair, he never even seriously attempted to do so because once the problem was taken care of by specialist internet lawyers, and in fact disappeared within days, Stuart, very understandably just wanted to get on with his life, which is exactly what he did.

Yair Cohen

via Web Host Liable for Contributory Infringement.
A South Carolina jury’s recent $770,750 verdict against Bright Builders Inc. marks the first time a Web-hosting company has been found liable for contributory infringement without actual notice that a customer’s website lists fake products for sale.

South Carolina District Judge Margaret Seymour’s March 14 judgment in Roger Cleveland Golf Company Inc. v. Prince followed the jury’s March 10 verdict.

In the rapidly evolving world of the internet, laws are written that have unintended and unexpected consequences which means that laws which are made by Judges who passed their Bar exams a decade before the personal computer was invented and commercialised, could have an extra damaging effect on the internet savvy public.

Was this elite, led by the top lawyers in the country so naïve so as to believe that information published on websites which are based abroad cannot be viewed in England?

Between the political parties’ unelected and unaccountable  bureaucrat elite, which sits in Brussels, our own well intended, yet somewhat socially alienated  judicial elite and a small group of celebrity elite, we end up with ridiculous Super-Injunctions which only serve to demonstrate how wide the gap is between the new style law makers and those who have to live with the consequences of such laws. It is perhaps not a coincidence that those who have been seeking Super-Injunctions are also part of an elite group; a financial elite which has perhaps little to do with the intellectual elite which has imposed on us these Super-Injunctions but still, these political, judicial and financial elites somewhat managed to get together and conspire to ensure that those who can afford it are able to prevent their innocent victims from telling the truth about the ‘well-off’s’ misdemeanour.

In a way, one cannot help feeling a bit sorry for all those who took part in this shameful attempt to conceal the truth. Did they not realise that these Super-Injunctions would not possibly last forever? Did they really believe that the whole world will slavishly adhere to court orders which are created with the sole purpose of suppressing the truth? Did it not occur to them that the internet also exists in the USA,Canada, Africa or the Middle East? Did they honestly believe that they can force an American based website to refrain from publishing the truth about corrupt celebrities, in particular as injunctions granted overseas are hardly enforceable in any of the American States?

One can perhaps understand how an anxious footballer, who perhaps might not be well versed with the ins and outs of the internet, could get carried away, and be willing to spend tens of thousands of pounds on worthless international gagging orders. But didn’t the lawyers bother to explain to their clients how the internet works? Did they forget to explain that it was inevitable that these ‘permanent’ worldwide injunctions could not have possibly lasted for long because of the way the internet works? Perhaps it is just that our elite is not as intellectual as it would like us to think it is.

Scottish experts have warned gagging orders are ineffective following the naming of Ryan Giggs and former banker Sir Fred Goodwin in the House of Commons.

Critics believe the UK government is to blame for not reacting quickly enough to the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law in October 2000. Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed concerns about privacy laws being developed in courts rather than in Parliament.

However, Dr Gillian Black, lecturer in law and privacy specialist at Edinburgh University, said successive governments had “ducked the issue” and must now introduce new laws as a matter of urgency.

“It is incumbent on Parliament to do so,” she said. “The media is very unhappy about the courts doing this (writing privacy laws], but they are only doing so because Parliament has ducked the issue.

“The article eight right to privacy (in the European Convention on Human Rights] has been here since October 2000, so Parliament has had long enough to go away and think about these things.”

However, she believes governments have long viewed more stringent privacy laws as a vote loser, with the press and public putting a high value on freedom of speech. Dr Black said: “They’ve not simply missed it. It’s a well accepted fact in the academic world of privacy that the government has not been willing to legislate because it’s not going to be popular.”

She said enshrining privacy laws in legislation would go some way to encouraging people to respect it.

“One concern is that the courts make this up as they go along,” she said. “What we need is a statutory right to privacy – a privacy bill.

“The government would not have to do much more than set down what judges have already done, but it would clear up what the media can and can’t do.

“The one thing they can address is the remedy. Super-injunctions are a failed remedy.”

Super-injunctions have become highly controversial as a court order that not only bans the media from publishing information, but also from revealing that the order even exists.

Former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin obtained one to try to hide details of an alleged affair with a colleague, although the order had to be altered after a peer revealed details in the House of Lords.

BBC journalist Andrew Marr also obtained a super-injunction to try to hide an affair with a colleague – he later abandoned it and admitted he was “embarrassed”. Since the UK became compliant with the ECHR, judges have had to balance the two competing rights within it of freedom of speech and privacy – such as when Mr Justice Eady ruled in favour of Manchester United footballer Giggs’ right to privacy – over Imogen Thomas’ desire to name him when speaking publicly about their alleged affair.

However, Frank Johnstone, convener of the privacy committee of the Law Society of Scotland, said it is not judges’ privacy laws that have been the problem, but the way they have tried to enforce them.

“I don’t take the view that the law on privacy has been broken,” he said. “The law was interpreted by a judge and he granted a remedy – the super-injunction. The remedy has proven to be ineffective, that does not mean the law was wrong.

“Rights are important but rather meaningless if you cannot translate it in effective remedy.”

He suggested tighter security might be imposed around the court proceedings, limiting the chance of the information getting out.

“What would be interesting to know is how did it get out in the first place, someone must have breached it initially, and it is that person that made it an ineffective remedy,” he added.

However, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, warned free speech must be enshrined in any new legislation.

“My concern would be in cases where there’s genuine, or substantial, public interest that that (freedom of speech] should not be over-ridden.

“Freedom of expression is very important. It’s not an automatic trump card over everything else, but neither should it be set aside.”

Yair Cohen, a leading internet lawyer, said people should be given stronger powers to challenge inaccurate or defamatory stories before publication, as an alternative to super-injunctions.

However, he also warned that celebrities who cheat on their wives, husbands or partners, may have to accept the blame for hurting them if their antics later appear in the press.

Mr Cohen said: “The families of, let’s say a footballer, who is guilty of indiscretions might have to bear the consequences of this change in the same way that families of criminals have to live with the consequences of an unlawful act by one of their members.

“And the family member who committed the indiscretion will have to take some responsibility for his actions, including the effect of his actions on members of his family.”

He added: “Any change in the law of privacy should cement this principle but should also give an opportunity to aggrieved parties to challenge any publication in advance in the event that the information which is about to be printed is incorrect or defamatory.”

Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday opened the first ever e-G8 forum in Paris. The event brings together leading figures from the technology industry to discuss the impact of the internet.

News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch and BBC director general Mark Thompson were due to speak at the event.

via Yair Cohen\’s Business Talks.

Super-Injunctions: Former Sun editor tight-lipped in super-injunction case – Surrey Herald.

NATIONAL newspaper columist and Weybridge resident Kelvin MacKenzie says he will not reveal his emails or text messages to a defence lawyer in a super-injunction case.

The former Sun editor got dragged into the super-injunction case between the affair of a footballer, who cannot be named, and reality television star Imogen Thomas, after revealing on BBC Radio 4’s Today show he received emails and texts from readers asking to tell them the names of celebrities using injunctions to protect their privacy.

Read full story on Super Injunctions

http://www.super-injunctions.com/

Friday, 13 May 2011

 

Blogger publishes super injunction order in full- The Inquirer

 By Lawrence Latif
Fri May 13 2011, 17:01 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION was the reason given by a blogger who published the full text of a gagging order.

 

As celebrities clamour to cover their indiscretions by asking judges to issue injunctions that suppress information, one blogger has gone a step further and revealed, in full, a gagging order. The super injunction was granted to a claimant, referred to as ZAM, to prevent details of his (mis)behaviour from becoming public.

Read full story

Writing in today’s Scotsman, I explain that the super injunctions have interfered with our good set of moral values and have caused confusion regarding our perception of the difference between right and wrong.

via Analysis: Internet democracy sounds the death knell for the super injunctions – Scotsman.com News.

Cyber-stalking should be made a criminal offence, says a group of MPs calling for an overhaul of the law.

BBC News – Cyber-stalking should be a criminal offence, MPs say

The MPs also say police and prosecutors must give all stalking complaints greater priority.

Data released by probation union Napo shows 2.2% of the 53,000 stalking incidents recorded in England and Wales in 2009 led to a jail term.

The charity Network for Surviving Stalking says the internet is “another weapon in the stalker’s armoury”.
via BBC News – Cyber-stalking should be a criminal offence, MPs say.

 
 

An Online Reputation Attacks On A Successful Small Family Business Which Resulted In The Family Losing Almost All Of Its Income And The Collapse Of Everything They Have Ever Worked For.

Jeff Clark, a husband and a father to three young children age 3, 6 & 10 has always loved cars. He has been fixing them since he was 12 and has worked in local garages around the Manchester area for many years now……

Read full story on Defamation Solicitors website

Online Defamation Almost Destroyed The Family Business One day, Jeff received a telephone call from a chap by the name of Herald Keller, who worked for one of Jeff’s regular suppliers in Germany – the largest wholesaler of second-hand Saab car parts in Europe. Herald Keller told Jeff that his employer was not going to supply Unique Vehicle Suppliers with parts anymore, because there was too much ‘bad stuff’ about Unique Vehicle Suppliers on the internet and that the name of Hines’ employer started to get tarnished as well through some of the very negative internet posts. Basically, there was so much negative publicity on the internet about Unique Vehicle Suppliers that Hines’ employer started to get concerned about his own company’s reputation

Read full story on Defamation Solicitors website

Very often victims of online harassment, online intimidation and online defamation feel hopeless and powerless to act: simply scared and paralysed with a growing number victims seriously considering suicide as they feel they have no one to turn to for help.

If you have ever been a victim of any online attack and tried to report your attackers to the police, you would have been very disappointed to learn that your local police force either was not interested, didn’t understand your problem, was underfunded and therefore unable to invest time and resources in investigating your matter, or if your matter was finally investigated, you would have been told it would take a very long time for the criminal justice system to come up with any real solution to your problem.
Victim of Online Intimidation

Victims of online harassment, online intimidation and online defamation feel hopeless and powerless to act with a growing number victims seriously considering suicide as they feel they have no one to turn to for help.

The police in the UK are indeed not equipped to deal with online harassment and online intimidation. Very few senior police officers have any understanding of the psychic of the internet, the nature of a Google Bomb, the technologies or the techniques which online attackers and bullies use to intimidate their victims.

But even if the police accepted your case of online harassment and agreed to investigate it, the police would have warned you that if any action was to be taken against your online attacker, this would take a very long time to investigate and once investigated, a case would have to be made to a local civil servant who works for the Crown Prosecution Service who would eventually have to decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to prosecute.

If and when, many months later, your case would have come to court, you should expect many more months of delay until it is completed, and not necessarily in your favour. You see, the criminal justice system requires a very high level of proof before anyone could be convicted which means the court might not necessarily decide in your favour.

In a recent case, which is believed to be the first in the UK where a person was jailed following a long term campaign of online harassment, it took the criminal justice system no less than 18 months to place the attacker, who was internet savvy behind bars and even then the court was unable to force him to remove the intimidating blogs and websiteswhich he created against his victim over a period of 18 months. These remain intact, which means that following the publicity which the case received in the national media, the defamatory comments and remarks gather almost unprecedented force and ‘search engine power’ which in turn means, that following the jail sentence which was received by the attacker, his defamatory blogs and websites received an unprecedented number of visits, causing the victim even more damage than before.

This begs the question of whether the criminal justice system is the best forum to have cases of online intimidation and online harassment resolved. Who wants to go through 18 months of hell just to see their attacker being jailed for a couple of months and without having the defamatory blogs removed at the end of the process, but instead, seeing the blogs gathering momentum because of the publicity which surrounded the court case?
 

Internet Law Expert Yair Cohen says that victims of online reputation attacks and online intimidation should take their cases to the high court instead of reporting them to the police.

As a hospital administrator has become the first man in the UK to be jailed for stalking a woman by blogs, internet law expert, Yair Cohen says that it seems that the authorities have now sent a strong message to all those who wrongly believe that the internet is a lawless land where stalking, bullying, harassment, defamation and blackmail are a fair game and have demonstrated that online harassment shall not be tolerated in our society.

In a case which was heard by Magistrates in Manchester, a 38 year old man, Stephen Andreassen continuously attacked his female victim by using no less than 35 website blogs in which he repeatedly insulted her, causing her upset and reputational damage. Andreassen also used emails to harass his victims as well as social networking sites such as Facebook.

“It is not surprising at all”, says one of the UK’s leading internet legal experts Yair Cohen, “that it took the authorities 18 months before Andreassen was finally jailed. By this time, his victim must have been completely destroyed

I strongly advise to take cases to the High Court and to obtain a comprehensive injunction within 48 hours.

mentally and emotionally. Her confidence must have been shattered and her trust in people would have been replaced with cynicism and weariness. Had this hate campaign been conducted offline, I have no doubt that the authorities would have acted much quicker to bring it to a halt.

By the time Andreassen was jailed he had already appeared in court on a number of occasions. On one occasion, after he admitted harassment, an order was made against him to refrain from mentioning his victim’s name on any websites. Again, it appears it took some time before this very limited court order was made and even longer, before breaches were dealt with.

“It is very likely,”
 says Yair Cohen “that had this been a case of domestic harassment, where more traditional methods of harassments were being used, the victim would have been relieved from her pain much, much earlier. It seems to me that the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Magistrates’ Courts are not yet ready to effectively deal with these sorts of online harassment cases. The civil courts however are much quicker to act in response to online harassment cases with injunctions being granted within days rather than months and years. I strongly advise victims of online harassment,” says Yair Cohen “to take their cases to the High Court where solicitors can obtain a much more comprehensive injunction on their behalf within 48 hours. There is no need for victims of online harassment to suffer for such a long time before the harassment is stopped.”

Despite him being jailed, a large number of the defamatory blogs that Andreassen created against his victim still remain active and are visible to the entire world to view. Yair Cohen says that a properly prepared High Court injunction would have ensured that the blogs and websites were removed by the internet service providers and that once such an injunction was granted, it could last for life, preventing anyone from taking part in the publication of material which is prohibited by the court order.

During his online campaign of harassment, Andreassen boasted of being so skilled in IT that he could set up and manipulate blogs about Miss Pattinson quicker than they could be deleted.

“It is not unusual for IT skilled individuals to blackmail their victims by making threats to destroy their victim’s reputation unless certain demands being met,”says Yair Cohen. “The police have seemed to so far, failed to recognise the fact that this form of blackmail is a criminal offence, mainly out of ignorance and lack of resources. In my law firm we take these sorts of threats very seriously and we make sure that we articulate clearly to the perpetrators of such online threats, the civil as well as the criminal implications of their actions.”

How To Get Rid Of Internet Defamation

Because the internet is a world of extremes, success and failures could literally happen overnight. The speed by which, for example you can have web pages listed on 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 a complete devastation to people and business owners who find that their reputation has been tarnished almost overnight. The good news however, is that with the principle of ‘easy come easy go’, listings of web pages on the first pages of the search engines are constantly changing which means that it is possible for negative information to disappear from the first pages of the search engines and be replaced by positive information fairly quickly. Speed is the key and the quicker you act the easier the task is. This should be somewhat comforting to those who sustain online reputation attacks because the knowledge that nothing on the internet is set in stone, gives you the opportunity to replace negative comments with positive ones. The same rules of extremes apply to videos and personal information which appear online.

Because of the extremely high volume of information, which is being posted daily on the internet, what is prominent today becomes little known tomorrow and high audience could turn into low volumes over a period of time and sometimes instantly.

In fact, if you search the internet for almost anything, you will struggle to find internet pages which were posted before 2008. Another, very encouraging set of statistics which reflect the extremes by which the internet operates is to do with the clicking habits of web users. It shows that 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 forth page receive 1.07% and results on the remaining pages receive a total of less than 1% of the clicks. This means that 93.3 out of 100 people find results on page 3 and below irrelevant. As a result the vast majority of the people would not bother searching beyond the third page. This, in fact, is good news for anyone who suffers an online reputation attack.

It means that most online reputation attacks could be defeated or at least be pushed down to obscurity. If you are interested in the full click through statistics, you can find them below. The numbers of course, fluctuate all the time but could be regarded as a true reflection of the searching habits of the internet population.

  1. The first ranking position in the search results receives 42.25% of all click-through traffic
  2. The second position receives 11.94%
  3. The third position on the first page obtains 8.47%
  4. The fourth placed position on page one receives 6.05%
  5. The others on the first page are under 5% of click through traffic
  6. The first ten results (page one ) received 89.71% of all click-through traffic
  7. The next 10 results (normally listed on the second page of results) received 4.37%
  8. The third page receives a total of 2.42%
  9. The fifth page receives a total of only 1.07%
  10. All other pages of results received less than 1% of total search traffic clicks.

Yair Cohen

Internet Law Expert

Internet Blackmail

Blackmail on the internet

I am sorry to be indiscreet about this sensitive subject but it looks as if this terrible matter is starting to become an issue for a growing number of men of all different economic and academic backgrounds, who get caught in what appears to be a sting operation which could potentially scar them for life.  I have seen families falling apart, and men having to move to a different town and even acquire a new identity.

Chances are that this is the first time you are hearing about this issue and that what is to follow as you read on has no direct relevance to you at all. In fact, you might even be a woman and this story is about men being groomed online.

Later on, you will see  why we have decided to make  all our clients and colleagues aware of this terrible issue and if, as I expect, this subject is completely foreign to you, please do pass this note to other men you know and care about. You could be doing them a big favour.

We hear a lot about young girls being groomed on the internet by older men.  This is of course one of the most disturbing subjects concerning internet use. What we do not hear about however, and what you are just about to discover as you read on, is the ease by which  men, of all ages, are  being groomed by women over the internet, having their photos, videos and personal details stolen and then spread over websites of a certain nature all over the world.

In short, there are some free forums on the internet for people to chat about anything and everything.  Naturally these forums tend to be regarded as ‘meeting places’ where people talk to strangers, exchange ideas and look for relationships, virtual or otherwise. One of these forums is called Chatabox. You can join up for free and then, you can start chatting immediately.  You can chat to almost anyone who is online at the time. I am not singling out Chatabox and I do not suggest the website owners are doing anything wrong. There are other similar websites which offer free chat and Chatabox is a very popular one and all those who came to me for advice following their horrific experience which I will describe below, have mentioned Chatabox as the place where their nightmare started.

Many men whether rich or poor, married or single take part in chatting and in most cases quite innocently. It is just another way for many to relax from the days chores  and have a relaxing conversation with other online chatters. It is normally a friendly place which at times, as you will find out, can become very dangerous indeed.

What many of these men don’t realise is that there are some dangerous predators out there, ready to eat them alive. Not literally but also not very far from that.

These dangerous predators I am talking about are women who have conspired to groom men and take them away from the chat site, where their identity can be revealed quite easily, to a private chat programme such as MSN Messenger , AOL Messenger or  Yahoo Messenger, where they intend to seduce their victims into performing compromising acts, totally naked, in front of a webcam.  Unbeknownst to their victims, the predator will capture the video, save it to their computer, edit it and then post it on hundreds of websites, the nature of which is obvious.

But there is still worse to come.

The way the operation appears to be working is this:  initially the woman will hunt for her victim. She will try several men before finding one who appears to be naïve so far as internet usage is concerned. The predator women do not look for perverts or men who are regular visitors to certain type of websites as these men tend to be far more suspicious and much more discrete. They hunt for an easy prey instead.

Their typical victim will be a school teacher, a dentist or a police officer. The initial conversation will be very innocent. It tends to be about work, family, location and so on. Suspecting of nothing, the victim will often divulge their children’s names and the name of the company they work for. Naturally, once they have given this sort of information, the men become even more trusting. It is a psychological thing that sharing personal information accelerates the feelings of trust that we feel about our partner to the conversation.

Then the woman speaks about herself and surprise surprise it transpires she and her victim have a lot in common. They both might be a bit lonely, they both could have some marital difficulties to resolve and they both are likely to be craving for love and affection.  Neither of them of course will contemplate having an extra marital affair mainly because of their loyalty to their family.  At the suggestion of the woman predator, the conversation will then move to a private chat programme such as Yahoo Messenger or MSN Messenger. This will break the ‘continuity of evidence’. Whilst on the public chat, the parties can relatively easily be traced through their account registration details. This will be almost an impossible task with a private chat programme. The move from one chat programme to another will also break the link between the grooming and the shocking action which will follow.

The conversation will continue on the private chat programme and will turn more and more personal until it becomes purely suggestive.  Eventually the victim will be encouraged to perform a compromising act on himself on camera so that the predator, whose job is almost done can “watch, participate and enjoy”. Once the compromising act is concluded the chat will come to its abrupt end by the predator simply switching off the programme at her end.

What happens next is very interesting and is probably beyond most people’s comprehension.

Following the video conversation which was fully recorded by the female predator onto her computer, she will compile several video clips and will give them titles such as

‘John Smith From 91 Cleveland  Lane Road, London, A GP and Child Molester Fxxxg Himself In Front of School Children’ as well as other similarly colourful commentary.

She will then post these videos on to several websites including YouTube and distribute them to countless other websites all over the world.

The victim will wake up in the morning to a new reality. He will first find an interesting email in his mail box from an unknown email address with a short note by his predator and a video attachment.

Having watched the horrific video, most victims will immediately carry out an internet search against their own name only to discover that their worst fears have been materialised.  By this time, the links which contain the videos have gathered so much popularity, especially following their distribution to the entire world by blogs and emails, that sometimes almost the entire first page of a Google search could be full of links to these videos, each time with a different title and commentary.

A total nightmare.  If the victim is married, he will now need to speak to his wife and explain how he allowed this situation to happen. This you can imagine would be quite a challenging task in itself. It could be a matter of time before his employers will find out, the kids, other family members, the neighbours, business associates or even some thugs who would believe that he is really a child molester or a paedophile.

At this stage the victims normally seek legal advice. They want to know what would happen if or rather when certain people discover these videos, in particular their employers. With most employers, it is a sackable offence to bring their organisation into disrepute.  Naturally, when we speak to the victims, many of them are in a state of extreme shock.

Before we deal with any other issue which troubles them, we give priority to the immediate removal of the videos from the several video hosting websites.  This could be done fairly quickly but of course the sooner we act the better because as time goes by, the number of links tend to increase and so does the popularity of the videos, as well as the number of people who copy these videos onto their personal computer and could potentially redistribute them in the future. The removal of these videos does not however guarantee that they will not reappear in the future.

It is important that the victims sign up for a monitoring system which operates 24/7 to give early warnings of any future distribution of their compromising videos. Potentially, these videos can reappear on the internet at any time in the years to come. In any event, with the internet, it is all about speed speed speed so the priority is to have these videos removed from video hosts sites as quickly as possible.

I cannot tell for sure what is the precise motive behind the action of the predator woman, but having lately seen so many of these cases I have no doubt that there is indeed a system behind this operation and I am almost convinced that the female predators do this for money.

In legal terms, all the victims in such cases have a cause of action in the courts, particularly for breach of privacy. Although legal action could eventually lead us to the predators’ identity this would be very costly and will bring further unwanted attention to the matter, and with it, further reputational damage to the victims. In cases such as this, any publicity is bad publicity.  The police  are unlikely to be willing or able to intervene, mainly because of lack or resources and due to the fact that victims choose not to lodge a formal complaint.

I will leave it for your imagination to picture the devastation this could cause someone. I have seen male victims changing their name and moving to a different town in order to avoid detection. I also witnessed families falling apart and men feeling suicidal following their involvement as victims in this sting.

Legally, little can be done to go back in time. No level of compensation will persuade any man in his right mind to pursue such a matter through the courts. Sometimes keeping your head down is the best advice to follow.

What is left is for us to spread the word, inform the public and educate people to be more vigilant whilst chatting on the internet. You have to remember that the vast majority of the men who find their lives falling apart as a result of being groomed, are innocent victims who were perhaps guilty of being naïve or even a bit reckless, but are certainly not sexual offenders or perverts and do not deserve the potential  life sentence which they may  have to serve day in and day out.

I am not condoning the use of internet chats by married men to look for virtual extra marital affairs. This is a subject of another conversation. However, everyone would agree that it is important to educate both adults and children about some of the dangers of internet chat. These are the dark sides of our new global society and they are not likely to simply disappear. It is only by having people such as yourself passing on this information to others that we can make the internet a safer place for both ourselves and to the next generation.

More internet law updates that could affect you and people you know

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Warning: Blackmail And Extortion Of Men On Internet Chat Rooms. Latest Update

By Yair Cohen

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Dedication

Years of Internet Law Experience