Volume 51, Number 43

fourteen pages

Byrdstown, Tennessee 38549 -- Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lawsuit seeks identity of anonymous bloggers

By: Amanda Hill Bond
Topix, LLC of Palo Alto, California has
come under attack by as many as 34 Attorneys
General from across the nation for its
priority review policy and abusive activity on
it's website Topix.com. The company was also
charging consumers $19.99 to review offensive
or abusive posts on its site in a more
timely manner instead of the seven to 14 day
policy. After consumer complaints they
agreed the priority reviews shall now be free
of charge and posts removed within three
working days.
Topix.com is a website that allows consumers
to post comments, poll and surveys in
local forums for the purpose of facilitating
discussion about news and other matters of
local community interest.
The website has been misused by some
consumers who post false, obscene or derogatory
information which can affect a persons
personal, family relationships as well as their
reputations in their communities and the impact
on their children.
Pickett County resident Deborah B. Garrett
has alleged through her recent lawsuit
against Topix, that she has been the subject
of defamatory statements that have been libelous
in nature and having reckless disregard
for the truth. Mrs. Garrett asserts that
the harmful statements started Feb. 19, 2009
and have continued despite her efforts to
have them removed.
According to an ABC News website, a
Texas couple filed a defamation lawsuit in
2009 against the anonymous posters on
Topix.com and served the company with a
subpoena to obtain IP addresses of the offending
anonymous posters.
In March, a California judge denied
Topix's motion to withhold any identifying information
for the targets of the suit. Topix cooperated
and provided the IP addresses
regarding the identity of the Topix posters.
People who think they are commenting
anonymously can be identified because in
most cases an email address is required and
an Internet Protocol (IP) address is recorded
with each post. A unique IP address is given
to each computer connected to the internet
which gives enough information to find out
an individual's name or business that computer
is registered to. With that information,
legal action can be taken against an individual
and/or business.
In a recent press release from the Tennessee
Attorney General, Topix, LLC and the
Attorney Generals announced measures to
improve consumer protections and the review
of inappropriate or abusive internet posts.
The Attorneys General are concerned about
the derogatory posts and "cyber bullying"
that are personal in nature particularly those
which relate to minors. They have taken
measures to educate parents and teachers,
propose and/or support legislation to outlaw
cyber bullying or cyber stalking and conduct
and assist in investigation and prosecutions.
Topix has agreed to cooperate with law enforcement
agencies to assist them in combating
unlawful activity on its website.
Mrs. Garrett said that she was seeking the
identity of the persons who have posted
defamatory settlements about her, her family
and business.
The lawsuit has been filed in the Pickett
County Circuit Court and a court date has
not yet been announced.

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