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CyberSmear Campaigns: Internet Defamation and the Anonymous Battleground 27 th Annual Media Law Conference CyberSmear Campaigns: Internet Defamation and.

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Presentation on theme: "CyberSmear Campaigns: Internet Defamation and the Anonymous Battleground 27 th Annual Media Law Conference CyberSmear Campaigns: Internet Defamation and."— Presentation transcript:

1 CyberSmear Campaigns: Internet Defamation and the Anonymous Battleground 27 th Annual Media Law Conference CyberSmear Campaigns: Internet Defamation and the Anonymous Battleground 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Bruce D. Fischman, Esq. Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. www.fhdlaw.com

2 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference A big $ problem for public companies Internet defamation is a cyber-crime that can cause more damage than computer viruses and Internet fraud combined. Statistically, online attacks against companies, their products and officers account for damages in the billions of dollars annually.

3 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Message Board Attacks Message board posters attack companies on boards such as:  Yahoo Finance  Raging Bull  Motley Fool  Silicon Investor  Other Investment Websites/Newsgroups

4 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Increase in Traffic to Message Boards Message board traffic has increased exponentially the past few years with the explosive growth of the Internet. There is a huge susceptible audience for these online attacks:  Yahoo has over 192 million registered users  Raging Bull has over 4.4 million registered users  Silicon Investor serves 2 million users a month  Motley Fool serves millions of investors monthly

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6 Increased Public Awareness Public awareness of the existence and pervasiveness of the situation is increasing. Expanded news coverage on the fact and consequences of online attacks, as well as of individual lawsuits, brings increased understanding of this area of CyberCrime. The press has taken a strong interest in some of the landmark cases handled by the firm. Newspapers across the country have written about our groundbreaking lawsuits, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today.

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12 Finding John Doe The first challenge facing counsel is to find out who authored the message. Methods used are cyber fingerprinting and John Doe lawsuits. Counsel must also profile the motivation of the attacker since your client’s response may be guided by those motives

13 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Profiles of The anonymous Online Attackers  Disgruntled current or ex-employees of BestWare  Disgruntled shareholders  CyberCriminal afraid of implications of BestWare’s program hitting the market  Short sellers of BestWare’s stock  Employees/paid bashers from rival software companies  Personal vendetta against company or executives  Individual searching for attention

14 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Actual Examples of CyberDefamation  CEO had criminal record of child molestation  CEO was busted in prostitution sting  CEO and executives were members of Mafia crime family  Poster was having an affair with CEO’s wife  Company’s product killed several people  CEO had unofficially resigned (stock dropped 20% over following 48 hours)  Company was declaring bankruptcy next week

15 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Increase in Sophistication of Attacks Online bashers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated in the nature of their attacks. Techniques employed by these individuals include:  Multiple aliases with slightly differing opinions that ‘talk’ to each other  Using securities terminology and well-researched information to lend legitimacy  Claiming inside information  Adopting a neutral or slightly positive attitude for credibility, then ‘changing their mind’

16 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Companies Victimized by CyberDefamation  AnswerThink  Amway  Bigsmart.com  Credit Suisse First Boston  E*Trade  Fruit of the Loom  HealthSouth  Hvide Marine  Integrated Health Services  LaserVision Centers  Lehman Bros  MGM  Lucent  New York Stock Exchange  Osage  Owens Corning  PhyCor  Raytheon  Rite Aid  Spacelabs  Viad Corp.  Weirton Steel

17 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Solutions  Employee Internet Policy – Counsel should recommend policies governing utilization of the Internet and intranet both on and off premises.  Preparing for the Attack – Clients should monitor Internet forums for online attacks.  Public Response – Due to strict securities laws, a public response to the attack should be conducted only under the supervision of counsel.  Identifying the Anonymous Poster – Use cyberfingerprinting or subpoenas.  Be realistic, not idealistic in dealing with ISPs  Legal Action – Amend John Doe suit to name the individual defamer. Final resolution by trial or settlement.

18 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Modification of CDA needed Currently, the service providers and portals have almost absolute immunity for the messages posted by others. Don’t sue Yahoo! or AOL for the messages published by others on their boards - it’s a waste of time. Legislative change is needed to require them to preserve identifying data about the publishers and avoid information dumping.

19 Fischman, Harvey & Dutton, P.A. 27 th Annual Media Law Conference Fischman, Harvey, & Dutton, P.A. Attorneys @ Law www.fhdlaw.com


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