Question About Forum Member's Privacy
Posted 18 August 2009 - 11:48 AM
I'm currently running a relatively newish forum and am having a situation over two squabbling members. My question here is...
If one member gives out their personal details to another member, and after falling out, the other member posts the first member's details, can the first member take any legal action against the second member?
I was under the impression that members are responsible for their own privacy, however this member is threatening to take the issue to the authorities.
I have removed the offending post but I'd like to know what legal implications there are, if any, for future reference.
Oops, I think I've posted this in the wrong section. I think it should be in the Law and Ethics forum.
Posted 18 August 2009 - 12:06 PM
In that you removed the offending item as quickly as you could, I think you have discharged your obligations. I do not see how anyone would have legal recourse against you. The real conflict is directly between the two members.
Posted 18 August 2009 - 01:01 PM
I agree with Barry that you've discharged your obligations -- you can be held responsible, in theory, for the information posted publically in your forums, so removing the offending post was an important thing for you to do. However, having done that, your legal obligations should be readily defensible (if it comes to that.)
You may want to check with Google and request that any cache of the page be wiped, as well, however, if you're concerned about protecting yourself further.
In answer to your first question -- yes, absolutely. The first member can take action against the second member. It's debatable whether their legal action will actually succeed, but they can certainly initiate a suit.
Posted 18 August 2009 - 03:12 PM
Sooner or later, any successful forum has to recruit moderators to help keep an eye on things. Having written guidelines for them to refer to is a very good practice.
Posted 18 August 2009 - 06:04 PM
I thought there were no legal implications if the person, who's personal details have been revealed, is responsible for revealing them herself. I understand that someone could be liable if personal information was leaked via an admin or someone 'hacking' or 'cracking' into their account, but if the said person had a bit too much to drink one night and told a few people her name in a chat rooms, and has told a few other people her name in PM, then later someone googled, found information and posted it, then that person has no legal leg to stand on.
Am I completely wrong here?
Posted 19 August 2009 - 04:26 PM
You can, however, be subpoenaed to provide information about those people by courts and law enforcement agencies (that just happened to Google over someone who made defamatory remarks on a Blogspot blog).
In the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth nations it's easier for injured parties to hold service providers responsible (or, at least, it was when I had to take action against a university in the UK about six years ago).
If you want legal advice, however, you should confer with a licensed, practicing attorney.
Edited by Michael_Martinez, 19 August 2009 - 04:26 PM.
Posted 19 August 2009 - 04:49 PM
I'm not asking whether my forum is liable or whether admin is liable or accountable. I'm asking if the man who provided the details about the woman is liable, even if the woman passed on her details to people in private, or in a chat room, herself, while intoxited.
Surely long-standing forum admins have had some experience in a situation like this one.
This is exactly what has happened:
A woman in the forum has shared private details about herself in the forum's chatbox and has given some members her facebook details which have her name on the account. She then fell out with a member, who passed on her details around to other members in private PM. One member googled her name and found a video interview she did on a popular News site. This news/video link has both her name and place of work, This member then passed on the details around via PMs. One of the members posted the details on the forum as well as on another forum, where the information can still be found.
Should the woman take legal action against the man for posting it or is it her fault for being so open with other members? In my opinion it's the latter but I've had no experience in this so I'm asking the opinion of anyone that has. I'm quite aware that there are no legal professionals on this site but there is a Law and Ethics forum (which this thread probably belongs in) and probably forum admins that have come across a situation as this one.
Posted 19 August 2009 - 05:06 PM
A more interesting question sprung to my mind - how do you know that this was passed around via PM's? Do you read members PM's? If so, is this mentioned in the privacy/tos on your site?
Posted 19 August 2009 - 05:15 PM
That is the crux of the situation, beaniegirl. In essence she has made information public. There is nothing that she could have said that would have limited the public nature of what she divulged. I can't see that it needs any action or even policy statement on the part of the Forum.
A woman in the forum has shared private details about herself in the forum's chatbox and has given some members her facebook details which have her name on the account.
Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:48 PM
Jonbey, I know about the PMs because other members on my forum who had seen the video were discussing the video on other forums and mentioned how they received the link. Then other members asked if they can PM the link to them as well. This was prior to the link being posted anywhere on any forum. I'm not sure if there was "slander" regarding the video or her personal information but there had been slander prior to this from both parties over photos etc. They did comment on the video and say things like "she's not a very good public speaker" and that she sounded frantic etc, while others provided positive feedback about it.
You would think these people were adolescents the way they behave online but surprisingly they're all middle-aged people with adolescents.
Thanks again for you comments.
Edited by beaniegirl, 19 August 2009 - 06:51 PM.
Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:53 PM
Posted 19 August 2009 - 07:03 PM
Thank you kindly for your advice.
Posted 20 August 2009 - 08:35 PM
My feeling, as Admin/Founder, is that everyone is responsible for themselves and I'm not a babysitter, nor are the Moderators. People do come here drunk and post, but we typically know them and it rarely gets out of hand. If anyone does show bizarre behavior, we pull the post/thread or ask the member to clean up their part.
If someone acts immaturely and gets into a situation with another member, either publicly or privately via PM, its none of my concern unless it hits the Boards. At that point, what they do disrupts The House. We consider that unfriendly behavior and pretty much, if someone can not handle themselves as a decent guest, they are removed from the Forums.
You, of course, are not responsible for the antics of your members.
If someone feels they have been exposed or violated, such as their personal info being leaked, there are things to do such as contacting the offending person's host and reporting their actions. Cyberstalking is against the law most everywhere and reportable to the police.
Posted 21 August 2009 - 10:32 AM
People do come here drunk and post
Gee, I didn't think anyone could tell when I when I was hammered. ;-)
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