“Just like there was no such thing as internet law before the internet, or franchise law before there were franchises, a new and growing niche area is “reputation management law.” It straddles libel, slander and defamation law, freedom of speech, privacy law, copyright and trade-mark law, employment law and the rules governing Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media”. (Canadian Press Report)
The Internet is an excellent forum for individuals and companies in the promotion and development of their personal, professional and business reputations. The recent explosion in Social Networking has allowed sites such as Facebook to replace postal mail and probably email as the main modern methods of staying in touch with extended groups of people. Text messages sent from mobile devices are extensively used. Most mobile devices can also send and record pictures or video clips with consummate ease.
However, the internet can be an equally effective tool in destroying reputations. An internet search will return all results, good or bad. The darker side of internet use includes using it to make personal attacks on individuals or their businesses. This can vary from bullying, to harassment and threats, or the posting of derogatory and defamatory comments designed to undermine an individual or business.
Once information is posted on the internet, it can be extremely difficult to remove it. The internet does not question the truth of information that is put in the public domain. It has no regard for personal feelings. It does not discriminate between statements unwisely made in haste, and those that have been the subject of mature reflection. Such concepts are largely left to individual conscience and sense of responsibility.
Recently, a number of authors have criticised court systems globally as irrelevant and ill-suited to dealing with internet-based reputation attacks. Our experience suggests that the courts often do have relevant powers, but judges may need to be persuaded to use existing tools in an innovative way...
bto’s On Line Reputation Team has extensive experience of representing clients in the ‘on line’ world and obtaining appropriate protective orders.