Richart Ruddie is the CEO of Profile Defenders and has been working on online reputation management, using new ways to protect personal and business profiles from vulnerabilities that could destroy their personal and business reputation in seconds.
Susan: What should be the role of Governments and Cyber Law Enforcement Entities in this regard? Do you think the Government has done enough so far?
The government should start to intervene and be more aggressive with punishing cyber bullies and stalkers. Right now it’s not being approached or looked at in cases that result in a theft or loss under $1 million dollars.
Unfortunately, I end up having to hear the sad stories of many cyber stalker victims and am often there the only resolution. For example, I recently helped a famous retired United States military personnel who had been victimized on Skype, Google Hangouts, YouTube, and Google search results by a female attacker who spread defamatory videos about him.
He went to the FBI and local law enforcement, and they said they were unable to help him and had to find his solution while hoping that the situation didn’t end up in a much worse situation if/when the local news stations and media found the defamatory results that the cyber stalker posted online.
Right now at local police departments, there is Crime Prevention Units setup but from my experience and speaking with clients who have reached out to these agencies they are receiving little to no help unless the threat coming from the stalker is putting them in physical harm or danger.
Susan: Do you think we have sufficient Cyberstalking laws in place? Do you think they still need a lot of work to fit the ever progressing Cyber Ecosystem?
We don’t unfortunately. Laws need to be in place to stop cyber stalkers and bullies. There are cases where a revenge porn mastermind is made an example of and rightfully so. In the case of Kevin Christopher Bollaert, he faced six counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft.
He allowed innocent people to suffer and further inflicted harm on them all in the name of free speech and cyberstalking. Bolleart’s website allowed people to post nude and X-rated images without their permission while also displaying personal information without their consent.
Now the free speech irrational advocates of the world would say that it is okay in the name of freedom of expression but anybody with ethics knows that it is not okay to go around and destroy people’s lives on the internet and thus this is one of the few good examples of the government putting their foot down.
Susan: How, and in what way, can we help the victims?
Help can be very expensive, and there are only two solutions which are litigating or using an ORM firm. The most respected name in the online defamation game is attorney Charles Harder.
He is the attorney who put Gawker out of business for not removing one single video from their website (crazy how Nick Denton blew a 9 figure business in the name of free speech) and he’s currently working to put a troll website called Tech Dirt out of business as well for a similar pleas of ignorance.
Unfortunately, he charges $800 an hour so few can afford him, but at least you know you will be in good shape if you can afford. Another is to use a reputation management firm. Profile Defenders offers data privacy removal programs to help people to delete themselves from the internet, we have relationships with over 250 websites that allow us to remove content on behalf of clients from their websites, and traditional suppression services to push down unwanted search results.
Susan: How do you help the unfortunate victims of Cyberstalking? Can you share any case that you have worked on?
There was a young lady who had a crazy ex-boyfriend who anonymously posted nude photos of her online and would email her with threats. I helped her identify the IP address of the sender and tracked down the attacker and with enough evidence we were able to get law enforcement to do a raid of his apartment and stop the attacks from happening.
Unfortunately, though for this success story, there are hundreds that go undiscovered. There is a case currently where a free speech advocate is arguing that sites like Backpage are okay displaying and trafficking underage girls and that the content deserves to stay online. It would be my hope that the government will step in eventually and put an end to the Wild Wild West that has become the internet.
Susan: What preventive measures should one take when online?
Nobody is immune from cyber stalkers. In a way, if you have one it is often seen as a sign of success. Those who have enough time on their hands to stalk you are not focusing their efforts on things that would make the world a better place and thus it’s a shame not only for the one being stalked but for the world.
You can bring a strong offensive of content online about yourself by creating social media profiles with your name in the title of each, posting YouTube videos, and making personal websites with your name in the URL. Until libel laws change cyber stalking will only get worse so the last piece of advice is to try and only do things that you would not mind the whole world knowing about.
Eventually, the United States will have something similar to the E.U.’s right to be forgotten but we are still years away from that happening, but when it does after seven years you will be able to delete what your cyber stalker has posted about you.