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Help regarding revenge site/cyberstalking/cybersquatting

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#1
(Washington State)


I am a victim of cyberstalking and cybersquatting by an ex. After I terminated our very short 3 month relationship, this person contacted my significant other, my separated spouse (unwanted, and they both blocked them), then after receiving no success there, cybersquatted on my first and last name (firstlast.com) with a bunch of defamatory content and a one-sided story about our relationship. This person registered the website anonymously. They hyperlinked every social media profile I have to the site and freely admit to contacting the people in my life - all actions definition of cyberstalking as the statute is written. I have blocked this person from all social media so they would have had to Google my information under a different or anonymized identity. During our relationship, this person stated they would kill me if I ever left them or broke up with them.

I contacted a lawyer who sent them a cease/desist but it was ignored. A couple of months later, as I actually found my behavior changing to one of constant fear of what might happen next, I contacted the police and filed a report for cyberstalking (it is illegal in the state of Washington). Link to the statute is below:

https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.61.260

I got a call from the prosecutor's office Domestic Violence support center who said they would recommend the case to a prosecutor and recommend they prosecutor press charges. This was a week ago and I haven't heard anything back.

Here are my questions:
1) How do I get the site taken offline? (court order, ICANN, etc.)
2) I would really like to know more about how to dispute the site through ICANN and other internet governing bodies
3) How do I sue the person for defamation per se, libel, slander, and whatever else is possible
4) Is there anything I can do in addition to filing the police report to compel the prosecutor to prosecute the case

I just want to actually feel safe again.

My attorney wants to wait to file a civil restraining order because he wants to see what the prosecutor will do. The website is an embarrassment and people ask about it, I have to explain it constantly. I don't know what additional measures I can take - cybersquatting law is incredibly murky when it comes to personal names vs. commercial trademark infringement. I am really doing my best to be patient but I want to know if there are things I can do that I simply do not know about.

Any and all help would be immensely appreciated. Thanks in advance for your knowledge sharing and responses.
 


FlyingRon

Senior Member
#2
ICANN doesn't take sites down or do anything. If you pay $3000 you might (and this is a big MIGHT) get the control of the domain name but that won't mean anythign with regard to the site which they can have up under other domain names. It's also not fast.


ICANN (rightfully so) is not responsible for policing internet CONTENT. Only to resolve bad faith name conflicts.

Understand that "defamation per se" requires some particularly heinous allegations. Just posting "one sided" accounts of a relationship doesn't quite meet that standard.

Understand YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHTS TO FORCE PEOPLE TO BE CRIMINALLY PROSECUTED. Criminal activity is not perp vs. victim. It is society that is harmed by criminal activity and the state prosecutes it.

If you want to personally force action, get yourself to an attorney and see what they think int he way of a civil suit.


Libel actions are kind of well described by famous attorney Louis Nizer who represented people like famous journalists in such suits. He likened defamation to having mud splashed on your coat. You can liberally attack it immediately and all you'll end up is smearing it all over you making a bigger mess, or you can leave it be and in a short period of time it will dry up and flake off on its own.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#3
(Washington State)

...Here are my questions:
1) How do I get the site taken offline? (court order, ICANN, etc.)
2) I would really like to know more about how to dispute the site through ICANN and other internet governing bodies
3) How do I sue the person for defamation per se, libel, slander, and whatever else is possible
4) Is there anything I can do in addition to filing the police report to companies el the prosecutor to prosecute the case

I just want to actually feel safe again.

My attorney wants to wait to file a civil restraining order because he wants to see what the prosecutor will do...
First, despite FlyingRon's oft-mentioned comment on Louis Nizer, not all or even most defamatory statements "dry up and flake off" in the internet age (Nizer died in 1994). The harm created by defamatory statements will often cause a permanent stain. One way to clean the stain on one's reputation can be through a defamation suit filed against the defamer.

To address your questions:
1. You will need a court order to remove defamatory content from a website. To get a court to issue such an order, you generally need to file a lawsuit and demonstrate to the court that your case has merit and can survive a motion for summary judgment.

2. You will not find help through ICANN.

3. You file a defamation suit against your defamer by filing a complaint. If you know who is publishing the defamatory statements, you name that person as defendant. If the poster is anonymous, you file suit against "John Doe" and seek a court order to identify the defamer through account information. You will need evidence of defamation and harm to support your legal action.

4. There is no way to force a prosecutor to prosecute. You file a police complaint and the prosecutor will decide if there is evidence enough to support a charge.

You say you have an attorney. I would rely on his advice and direction. He has access to the facts. I agree with him that it can be smart to see what happens with your police complaint before taking other action.

A week is not a long time to wait for word on a criminal charge.
 
Last edited:
#6
We are filing defamation per se suit. I am acting on my attorney's advice. The evidence is there to do that. This person also stated that they would kill me.

I am not trying to force anyone, much less a prosecutor, into doing anything. I'm simply stating what I was told. I wasn't expecting the police to do much of anything so I was surprised when the prosecutor's office said that they would recommend to the prosecutor that they move forward with charges.

I understand regarding my name not being a trademark. I also understand that there are domain name disputes that get resolved in cases that are not commercial. How does that happen?

My attorney is great but also very expensive. I am trying to educate myself a bit here, so please bear with my questions - not everyone is an expert in the law and your time and answers are absolutely appreciated.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#7
We are filing defamation per se suit. I am acting on my attorney's advice. The evidence is there to do that. This person also stated that they would kill me.

I am not trying to force anyone, much less a prosecutor, into doing anything. I'm simply stating what I was told. I wasn't expecting the police to do much of anything so I was surprised when the prosecutor's office said that they would recommend to the prosecutor that they move forward with charges.

I understand regarding my name not being a trademark. I also understand that there are domain name disputes that get resolved in cases that are not commercial. How does that happen?

My attorney is great but also very expensive. I am trying to educate myself a bit here, so please bear with my questions - not everyone is an expert in the law and your time and answers are absolutely appreciated.
Seeking information is smart but you should rely on your attorney for advice.

You can read the information provided in the ICANN link.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
#8
We are filing defamation per se suit. I am acting on my attorney's advice. The evidence is there to do that. This person also stated that they would kill me.

I am not trying to force anyone, much less a prosecutor, into doing anything. I'm simply stating what I was told. I wasn't expecting the police to do much of anything so I was surprised when the prosecutor's office said that they would recommend to the prosecutor that they move forward with charges.

I understand regarding my name not being a trademark. I also understand that there are domain name disputes that get resolved in cases that are not commercial. How does that happen?

My attorney is great but also very expensive. I am trying to educate myself a bit here, so please bear with my questions - not everyone is an expert in the law and your time and answers are absolutely appreciated.
I think that you need to listen to your attorney about waiting to see what the prosecutor will do before you consider a civil lawsuit. Its possible that a civil suit would be much more successful if the guy is found guilty of stalking or harassment.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#9
Although I can understand silentscope's impatience, there is often little that can be accomplished during a holiday week.
 
#10
Although I can understand silentscope's impatience, there is often little that can be accomplished during a holiday week.
It's incredibly hard. I realize that people are out, which is why I'm doing my best to calm myself and gather as much data as I can.

My attorney is basing the defamation per se case on the fact that much of what's written in the site is completely fictitious and designed to embarrass me publicly. It has absolutely had its intended effect - my new employer asked, my friends, etc.

I find cyberstalking to be super unsettling. It's a very scary feeling. I'm glad there is a statute in place in WA that is clear on the law. I just hope it gets enforced, the transgression is very black and white.

Ultimately this is costing me sanity and money, and time. I am finding out how much time it takes to resolve all this, and how far unstable humans are willing to go to do damage.

I wish I had some additional data points on domain name disputes. This is not an area of strength for my attorney - no one is perfect at everything. I'm researching this now. Seemingly this has been litigated successfully for non-commercial use. I have yet to find a lot of information on this aside from ICANN's policies on a cybersquatter having no legitimate and obvious benefit from the domain name. My name is very unique thus it shows up in search results, so getting the domain name is incredibly valuable.

I continue to appreciate all the responses.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#11
It's incredibly hard. I realize that people are out, which is why I'm doing my best to calm myself and gather as much data as I can.

My attorney is basing the defamation per se case on the fact that much of what's written in the site is completely fictitious and designed to embarrass me publicly. It has absolutely had its intended effect - my new employer asked, my friends, etc.

I find cyberstalking to be super unsettling. It's a very scary feeling. I'm glad there is a statute in place in WA that is clear on the law. I just hope it gets enforced, the transgression is very black and white.

Ultimately this is costing me sanity and money, and time. I am finding out how much time it takes to resolve all this, and how far unstable humans are willing to go to do damage.

I wish I had some additional data points on domain name disputes. This is not an area of strength for my attorney - no one is perfect at everything. I'm researching this now. Seemingly this has been litigated successfully for non-commercial use. I have yet to find a lot of information on this aside from ICANN's policies on a cybersquatter having no legitimate and obvious benefit from the domain name. My name is very unique thus it shows up in search results, so getting the domain name is incredibly valuable.

I continue to appreciate all the responses.
Here are two additional links with information for you to read, the first to an overview of defamation law in Washington published by the Digital Media Law Project and, the second, to ICANN information on the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/washington-defamation-law

https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/help/dndr/udrp-en

If your attorney believes that the statements published about you are defamatory per se (accused you of a serious crime, of having a loathsome disease, of being unchaste, or injured you in your business, trade, profession or office), you will not need to prove your reputation was harmed. Harm will be presumed and damages can be awarded on this presumed injury alone. However, without demonstrable injury, any damages that may be awarded could be nominal. It is best to have evidence of harm and actual damages should you file suit.

A UDRP complaint can be filed against a domain name registrant over the use of a personal name IF the name has acquired a distinctiveness. Most personal names that have not been used as trademarks and are not recognized by the public are unlikely to be considered distinctive.

Again, while it can be smart to educate yourself on the legal issues of concern to you, the information should not be used as a substitute for your own attorney's advice and direction.
 
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