Journal of Information, Law and Technology Cybersmearing: a legal Conflict Between Individuals and Corporations



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Journal of Information, Law and Technology



Cybersmearing: A Legal Conflict Between
Individuals and Corporations



Gregory J. Naples
Associate Professor
Department of Accounting
Marquette University
Milwaukee USA
gregory.naples@marquette.edu



Meredith Maher
Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Accounting
Marquette University
Milwaukee USA
meredith.maher@marquette.edu



This is a refereed article published on: 16 August 2002



Citation: Naples G J and Maher M, ‘Cybersmearing: A Legal Conflict between Individuals and Corporations’ The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT) 2002 (2)



Abstract


Cybersmearing is the act of anonymous communication of false information about a corporation over the Internet, which causes economic damages. Initially, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were concerned with their legal liability, which was limited by the Communication Decency Act of 1996. Next, courts in the United States struggled with how to compensate corporations from the anonymous acts. The courts issued subpoenas to the ISPs to determine the true identity of the anonymous user and then proceed with the case. However, currently the federal and state courts in the United States are struggling with the balance between Internet privacy and corporate defamation. First Amendment rights ensure that Internet users can communicate freely; however, United States Tort law ensures that corporations have the right to protect their reputations. Hundreds of cases have been filed relating to this topic; however, most are voluntarily dismissed after the anonymous party’s identity has been revealed. Current trends show federal courts are formalizing the process to issue subpoenas to determine the true identity of Internet users and courts are now applying a stricter view to protect First Amendment rights.
Keywords: Cybersmearing, Defamation, Corporations, Privacy, Regulation, ISPs.



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