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Wasn't sure where to post this so I thought "security"

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Sorry if this is in the wrong forum. I need to learn a little bit about internet privacy rights and what websites are allowed to post personal data on an individual. I am a member of another forum and when I joined up, I was not aware of the fact that its pretty much entirely unmoderated. Didn't take long to figure it out though, when they started posting my private personal information up though. Its a local automotive hobbyist forum for my city, and here in Pheonix its quite well known. Well, being unmoderated (largely unmoderated anyway) people say whatever they want. That's fine. I'm no stranger to forums like that.

However, like any of you I'm sure, I'm not just going to be sit there and let people walk all over me, I'm going to bite back if someone insults me or otherwise just acts like a child towards me. I'm sure you're all quite familiar with that type of behavior being displayed online. Let me say I am NOT someone who starts such things nor will I normally participate in them. I'm much too old for that. But I guess I rubbed some cyber stalker the wrong way, and he was somehow garner my personal information such as my full name, date of birth, home address, phone number, workplace, family, kids, spouse, etc. And then posted all the info in a thread and told everyone to "give me a call" or to "go to my workplace and raise hell". Among other things. I'm not going to post a link to the site or say which one it is because I really don't want this propagating any further.

Honestly I wouldn't care about them simply posting the information. Anyone who wants that stuff bad enough can get it. However, this person then proceeded to try to make sure that anyone searching my name would... I don't know... see me in some kind of negative light. I won't go into what he said because its just mindless insults. I have absolutely no real world ties of any kind to anyone on the forum. Well, it worked. My boss does check up on his employees from time to time and he called me in his office and asked why my name was dragged through the gutter and why this person (and seemingly, his friends) hated me so much.

This was when I was about to be transferred to a different department at work and usually that is when they do the drug testing and the checking. Anyway, that's all it took. I now want to pursue any action I can against this forum with the intention of getting them to take all my personal information down off the site. As well as any of that stuff that was said that is related to me. They made sure that every post where they talked about me, had all of the personal information in it. Its become clear that anyone who checks up on me is going to run into that, and I really don't need it in my life.

I have already tried to appeal to the site's administrators and they simply said something juvenile like "If you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen". Well, there's heat, and then there's illegal activity. So I would appreciate any help that anyone can give me. All I want them to do is remove those posts, which is well within their abilities. I've asked more than once very politely, and they do not seem to have any desire to comply. This leaves me with few other options than simply going around them and forcing them to do what I ask. I don't feel like this request is asking too much at all. What authority do I go to in order to get this resolved?
Edited by PhotonFanatic - 2/20/13 at 3:05am
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post #2 of 8
Photon,

I'm really sorry to hear about the issues, when things like this arise, it is sometimes very, very difficult to deal with, especially if the site admins are unwilling to help. As you have approached them and tried to have the information removed, and they have failed to comply, it seems that your only other recourse would be a legal one. Now, I would rarely tell someone to bring the court system into an online matter such as this, but, seeing as it is affecting your working life (career), you would be completely within rights to bring an injunction against the site’s admins and they users posting the information.

Your best bet would be to contact an attorney in your area and speak to them about filing an injunction against the site admins to have the posts removed. An injunction is just a legal notice (basically a warning and a precursor) for them to take some kind of action. If they fail to take the action requested in the injunction (depending on the laws in your state, they would have either 30, 60 or 90 days to take said action), then you would have full grounds to press a lawsuit for defamation of character. This would bring the court system into the matter, but usually, just receiving a subpoena to appear is enough to make people jump up and take action, so you probably would not even need to take it to court, unless you wanted to force them to pay for your legal fees as well (which your attorney could work out with them once you get to this point in the process, to reach a settlement).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m completely and utterly against frivolous lawsuits, and if you hadn’t posted the bit about your boss’s reaction, I would have closed the thread without replying and though you needed to grow a thicker skin, but as this is now having an impact on your professional life, I would advise you to take action. Heaven forbid you lose out on a promotion because of what some idiot wrote about you online.

I’m not an attorney, but I do have some background in the law (here in Ohio anyway), so if you have further questions I might be able to help you with, please feel free to send me a PM.

Good luck, I know these issues can be a pain.
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post #3 of 8
I tend to agree WonderMutt. In addition the information that was gather could have also been correlated to other Social Media, Facebook, Linked In, etc. It should always be a best practice not to put your PII on such sites, this opens the potential for exactly what you are now a victim of.
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post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by bratas View Post

I tend to agree WonderMutt. In addition the information that was gather could have also been correlated to other Social Media, Facebook, Linked In, etc. It should always be a best practice not to put your PII on such sites, this opens the potential for exactly what you are now a victim of.

I'm very sorry this happened to you, but I'd be inclined to agree with bratas in saying that you created the potential for it to occur. Learn from this mistake and it won't happen again, use fake info online, especially with unprofessional or insecure (no SSL) websites and never reuse passwords.

Regarding your recourse, if you feel this person is threatening you, report them to the police.
    
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post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bratas View Post

I tend to agree WonderMutt. In addition the information that was gather could have also been correlated to other Social Media, Facebook, Linked In, etc. It should always be a best practice not to put your PII on such sites, this opens the potential for exactly what you are now a victim of.

Yes I learned that the hard way. I never would have thought that a simple email address could get someone all of that information. I mean I'm guessing that is what they used to get it. I use a name similar to this one as my screen name, but my email address is the only other item that they have that they could use to find me. I simply didn't post up anything else. And really, I didn't even post that up. Its simply on file from when I joined the site. I don't even think that your regular members could see it. I checked the box that said "Receive email from administrators" and left the other box unchecked. I assumed at the time that only admins could see the email. Guess I was wrong. I've never given any other scrap of data other than that. So it must be what they used. And yes, unfortunately, that is my everyday usage email address so it did have my real name attached to it.
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post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
I used a tracert command to get their server's IP address. But now that I have it, how can I get their mailing address so that I know where to send the cease and desist order?
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post #7 of 8
If you look up the WHOIS information for the domain there should be the admins contact email address + home adress

If it is hidden you need to lookup the registra and get in contact with them, tis a lengthy process though, and allot of the time Whois Emails are Ignored,

if your on linux -> whois domain.com

if windows http://whois.net/

(ie http://whois.net/whois/google.com)

In future rember to user fake emails xD!
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post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotonFanatic View Post

Yes I learned that the hard way. I never would have thought that a simple email address could get someone all of that information. I mean I'm guessing that is what they used to get it. I use a name similar to this one as my screen name, but my email address is the only other item that they have that they could use to find me. I simply didn't post up anything else. And really, I didn't even post that up. Its simply on file from when I joined the site. I don't even think that your regular members could see it. I checked the box that said "Receive email from administrators" and left the other box unchecked. I assumed at the time that only admins could see the email. Guess I was wrong. I've never given any other scrap of data other than that. So it must be what they used. And yes, unfortunately, that is my everyday usage email address so it did have my real name attached to it.

If you have not posted your personal info on any other site like you have stated. Then you may have legal recourse against the site that did not protect your personal data...speak with an attorney about legal action against the company that failed to protect your PII.
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