Home > News > Critics Face Legal Woes • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options


Critics Face Legal Woes

Get XBIZ News
Nov 17, 2003 12:00 AM PST    Text size: 

Many companies who find themselves being publicly criticized by “anonymous” sources are no longer taking a passive stance to these often-unsubstantiated assaults. For example, H&R Block recently filed a defamation suit against an unknown entity that the financial services company suspects is actually an employee of the firm.

While the defendant is currently anonymous, the suit was filed in the Kansas City federal court against the defendant’s ‘screen name,’ “John Doe, a/k/a ‘Enron junior’,” over alleged disclosures on Yahoo’s message board of confidential and misleading information. The lawsuit which seeks unspecified damages alleges that the defendant posted messages about a pending lawsuit.

Characterizing the poster’s comments as “false and inaccurate,” the suit alleges that the messages violated company policies, federal securities laws, and that they were defamatory.

Despite “diligent investigation,” H&R Block has not discovered the defendant’s identity, and as a result has subpoenaed Yahoo! to reveal the poster’s name – something that Yahoo! has done for Block in the past – after being subpoenaed in 2000 over nine individuals who allegedly posted confidential information.

While suits designed to compel ISPs to provide user information have increased, courts have typically sided with users, upholding their free speech rights, a California federal court case resolved in February, however, that a message board poster who was the plaintiff’s business competitor could face a defamation and unfair competition suit. Recognizing that message boards are a “public forum,” the court nonetheless held that the negative posts were actually “commercial” speech – and therefore not entitled to the same First Amendment protections as “political” speech.

According to H&R Block spokeswoman Linda McDougall, “Certainly anyone has the right to voice their opinions in a variety of forums, but when you cross the line from opinion and you’re stating something as fact that is not fact, you need to be held responsible for what you say.” While McDougall claimed that H&R Block respected an Internet poster’s privacy and anonymity, she stated that “…they have to take responsibility for what is posted.”

More ways to get XBIZ News:  RSS Feeds  |  E-Newsletters  |  Desktop Widget  |  Mobile
Looking for porn star news and behind-the-scene videos? Check out XFANZ.com !


How Advertisers Use Your Devices to Sell You Stuff

The paranoia has reached an all-time high. Now some people actually believe that their microwave ovens are spying on them — despite the fact they don’t have any listening devices or cameras.... More »

As Mobile Grows, So Does Need to Push Sales

The number of consumers browsing and buying online will reach 270 million by 2020, driven largely by activity on mobile devices, according to Forrester. Business is booming and the fact that most purchases... More »

With AI, Routine Tasks Start Fading Away

I just turned 42. The list of things I may never do again is growing fast. I no longer dream that I will become an Olympian in any sport except archery or horseback riding. The oldest Olympians in those... More »
Stay informed of the latest industry developments. Get XBIZ newsletters delivered to your inbox. Subscribe today!
Enter email address:

* To manage existing subscriptions click here.

Submit your press release to
multiple news outlets with 1 click.
Subscribe to RSS news feeds or
add free content to your website.
Access XBIZ news and articles
with your mobile device.
Access the latest issues of the industry's leading trade publications in digital form. View online or download for offline viewing.


XBIZ.net Paysite Meetup

May 04 - May 04
Prague, Czech Republic

Eurowebtainment 2017

May 17 - May 20
Majorca, Spain

XBIZ Retreat

May 30 - Jun 03
Miami, Florida

XBIZ Miami 2017

May 30 - Jun 02
Miami, Florida
Everyday thousands of business professionals browse XBIZ's industry directory for quality products and services. Not listed yet? Your company could be losing potential new business. Submit your company today!
Use XBIZ RSS feeds to stay informed of the latest industry developments or as a content syndication tool for your website!