E-reputation legal counsel
Some companies engage a legal specialist to resolve Internet-related disputes. Professionals who offer services in this market are generally legal advisers who specialize in business law or laws governing new technology. But what happens when the issue is laws governing image and your online reputation ?
REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE, A PROBLEM THAT PREDATES THE INTERNETReputational damage to personalities, private individuals, businesses, products or brands far predates the Internet. Specifically, this type of problem used to arise in newspapers and the press. The existing legal arsenal at the time was adequate to resolve all issues involving the law and freedom of the press.
But now, with the new media and the space for opinions that the Internet provides, the danger is that these types of incidents will proliferate. More and more people have access to publishing capabilities without having the journalistic ethics of a press professional.
As a result, anyone with legal knowledge can allege an infraction of criminal or civil law (defamation or disparagement, for example) and claim damages. However, it can become more complicated to make an appropriate legal response when the purported victim hides behind anonymity or publishes the offending information on a foreign site.
It therefore becomes necessary to understand some procedural concepts and principles of international law to find the most appropriate and fastest solution for the client.
IS IT WISE TO OPT FOR A LEGAL ADVISER FOR ONLINE REPUTATION ?
Let’s consider, for example, a case of anonymous defamation (or hiding behind an unidentifiable pseudonym). To counter this kind of case, the tendency is to attack the author of the statement on factual grounds by providing proof to the contrary (by witness statements, for example).
A strict formal procedure must be followed for this tactic to be successful. Any legal adviser would be able to do this successfully, but the Internet offers other much faster procedures for definitively resolving such disputes fast.
Any lawyer would be able, within 48 hours, to obtain an order from a judge to have the author of the statement identified. The next step would be an emergency motion for an injunction to have the offending statement deleted. All this would be a civil matter and would happen very fast.
The difference between a civil action and a criminal action is that a criminal case can take 3 to 4 years, whereas in a civil case it takes at most 1 month to obtain a ruling and have the offending statement deleted.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LAWYER AND A LEGAL ADVISER
You have to realize that a legal adviser is not necessarily the same as a licensed lawyer who is a member of a regulated profession.
A legal adviser is also not bound by lawyer-client privilege or professional secrecy or has professional liability insurance (although many legal advisers do so in practice).
Lastly, the most critical factor is that the authorities can seize all of their records in any legal action if necessary.