Friday, December 03, 2021

Ask your internet law question

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

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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

 

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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

 
 

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

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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

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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

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UK Internet Law News

US Internet Law News

Online Crime News

Data Protection News

Privacy Law News

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Dedication

Years of Internet Law Experience