The Internet often borders the boundaries of what we consider legally correct.
Our society holds libelous content (published content), which directly harms the reputation of others, as a very serious criminal offense.
There are now websites that blur the boundary of libel laws.
One site has gained media attention because of how it brings to question our right to Internet freedom. The site is called STDcarriers.com.
This site collects data about others who supposedly carry STD’s. Anyone can add content to the site anonymously.
As long as this site exists anyone can add a person’s information, their name, and most importantly what sexually transmitted disease they may carry; whether they actually have one or not.
The information is easily searchable. If you are looking for a job and your information pops up on this website, you would have a hard time repairing your reputation in their eyes.
It is fairly easy to see how this kind of service can be easily abused to harm reputations.
If this falsity was published in any other fashion it would be quickly deemed as libel, but the creator claims he is legally right.
The author of the website, Cyrus Sullivan has made his case on a number of media outlets.
Normally he would be held libelous for content, but he resides in a grey area of Internet libel.
The editorial staff does not condone this site and feels that sites that publish such defamatory content are morally wrong. However, we cannot say that they are illegal.
It’s easy, but wrong, to say we should write laws that completely prohibit this type of content.
Such legislation has been proposed. The SOPA fiasco should come to mind. But we could not have sites such as Facebook as we know them if laws were rewritten in this way.
We should expect people to hold themselves responsible for their personal interactions with others on the web, but to expect such is simply naive.
The Internet is a new frontier and there are grey areas about its legality we have to keep in mind when utilizing it. We believe such acts of libel should be punishable by law but only against authors of content.
STDcarriers.com is a misuse of the safety that these laws about Internet content provide.
If such sites want to continue to provide their services they must ensure that they hold themselves accountable.
Sites that deal with private, defamatory and possibly illegal content should not allow their users to post anonymously so that they can be punished if their content harms others.