Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Prankster posts sex ad replies online

Expand Messages
  • Alfred
    Privacy experts say the case is legal but crosses the line morally NEW YORK - At first glance, the posting looked like any number of Internet classified ads
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12 12:11 AM
    • 0 Attachment
      Privacy experts say the case is legal but crosses the line morally

      NEW YORK - At first glance, the posting looked like any number of
      Internet classified ads explicitly seeking sex. But instead of the
      27-year-old woman with long brown hair advertised, a male, Seattle-
      area
      graphic designer collected the replies and posted them online - with
      photos, names and contact information.

      Privacy experts say the case treads the line legally but crosses it
      morally.

      "It's a sad commentary overall," said Lauren Weinstein, a veteran
      computer scientist and privacy advocate. "It's one of those
      situations
      where both sides look bad. ... From an ethical standpoint, this isn't
      brain surgery."

      It all began with Jason Fortuny's posting on the online community
      Craigslist. According to his Web journal, Fortuny took a real ad and
      reposted it so that responses went straight to him. Among the 178
      responses were 145 photos of men "in various states of undress." The
      replies included e-mail addresses, names and in some cases,
      instant-messaging accounts and phone numbers.

      Fortuny then posted all the replies on a Web site devoted to parodies
      and satires online.

      It's by no means the first time information thought private gets
      posted online.

      Internet vigilantes have engaged spammers and scam artists and posted
      results of their conversations online. Others expose sexual predators
      they purposely seek out in chat rooms.

      In this case, however, the men who replied to Fortuny's posting did
      not appear to be doing anything illegal, so the outing has no social
      value other than to prove that someone could ruin lives online, said
      Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Oxford and Harvard
      universities.

      Whether Fortuny violated any laws is less clear, he said.

      "It's one of those questions that could find its way onto a law
      school exam because it is comparatively new territory," Zittrain
      said.

      Fortuny did not immediately respond to e-mails from The Associated
      Press, and calls Monday to his telephone number generated a message
      saying the subscriber "is not in service."

      Craigslist Chief Executive Jim Buckmaster told the AP in an e-mail
      that Fortuny's actions violated the site's policies. He noted that
      the ad in question was removed several times, only to be reposted.

      "Publishing private e-mails is something that decent people don't
      generally do without very good reason," Buckmaster said.

      Kurt Opsahl, staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
      said Craigslist would be protected under federal law exempting
      service providers from liability for what their users do. Fortuny's
      liability under Washington state law, he said, rests on whether the
      disclosures are of legitimate concern to the public.

      "As far as I know, they (the respondents) are not public figures, so
      it would be challenging to show that this was something of public
      concern," Opsahl said.

      Weinstein said the action could potentially make Internet users more
      likely to question the legitimacy of Craigslist ads and more
      reluctant to participate.

      "Once you've lost that trust," he said, "a large part of the utility
      of what those services were there for in the first place is lost."
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.