A US judge has launched a blistering attack on the blogosphere, saying it is a minefield of potential litigation.
Judge Edward Fadeley, retired associate justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, called the blogosphere “a veritable Wild West of verbal ambushes and shootouts, with very little fear of legal recourse to keep character assassination, defamation and dirty business tricks in check.”
Fadeley notes that in the infancy of the internet, Congress passed a law requiring blog operators to protect the public by self-regulation. But Fadely claims that many bloggers flout that responsibility and willingly post inaccurate messages that damage others.
The Judge believes that some 50 to 60 per cent of blog attacks are now sponsored by business rivals.
Many innocent companies are being damaged by individuals out for profit or self-promotion, claims Fadeley. “Even in instances where legitimate organisations have been seriously damaged by bloggers, it's difficult to counter unfounded attacks or to demand the actual sources, let alone seek the protection of the law.”
He makes reference to a case in 2004, where Apple filed a lawsuit in California against unnamed individuals who allegedly leaked information about a rumoured new Apple product to several online news sites. Apple subpoenaed Nfox.com, the email service provider for PowerPage, for email messages that could provide information on the identity of the informants.
“It's high time to fill the gap in a system that allows defamation in the blogosphere to go unchecked. The harm can be wide-ranging and devastating. Until the law catches up with technology, innocent parties have little or no protection in the volatile world of cyberspace,” Fadeley said.
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