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Monday, September 12, 2005

Online intimidation -- It's not just for conservatives anymore

Everyone remembers the gruesome "Nuremberg Files" website. The website, which has been shut down and reopened repeatedly, contained the names and addresses of abortion providers. It is believed to have led to the murders of abortion providers.

Gay marriage advocates have stated that they intend to place online the names and addresses of anyone who signs a petition against gay marriage. As reported by the Boston Herald,

A pair of gay activists are raising the stakes in the fight over same-sex marriage, vowing to post on the Internet the name and address of anyone who signs a petition to ban gay marriage and civil unions in Massachusetts.

The pair claim that the site is a "way to open up communication" and to allow people to better choose what businesses to patronize. I suspect that likely uses of the site are going to tend more towards home intimidation and possibly violence against petition signatories. While I don't support this particular petition, I do think that signatories ought to be free to sign this petition (or any other legal petition) without intimidation.

Posted by Kaimi Wenger on September 12, 2005 at 02:54 PM in Current Affairs, Information and Technology, Kaimi Wenger | Permalink

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Comments

I should think more information would be necessary to decide this one way or another.

If the petition is public information, and otherwise easily obtainable, then posting it on a site wouldn' violate any privacy norms. If the information in the petitions is normally private, and they have an "in" somehow to obtain them, there is a violation of privacy expectation and possibly statute. In addition, if what they are attempting to do is match names to businesses and addresses, then there is a strong chance of reputation-smearing in the inevitable mismatch.

The difference between the clearinghouse for abortion providers and this may be that the abortion providers are generally known and obtainable from public sources.

As I mentioned above, however, more info is needed.

--Jonathan Watson

Posted by: Jonathan Watson | Sep 13, 2005 10:07:47 AM

Yes, but, anti-abortion activists have a history and practice of using terrorist techniques to get what they want; activists for equal marriage rights do not.

Posted by: keith | Sep 14, 2005 7:32:20 PM

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