The Internet has done more for freedom of speech and freedom to express oneself than nearly any other medium in history.
And while most of that energy is put to great use, there are those times when organizations or individuals are on the receiving end of some defaming allegations generally placed on a web-site, social network site, e-mail or other electronic communication for others to find. Of course, the other thing that the Internet brings to these defamation of character cases is anonymity; or at least the appearance of anonymity. Vestige has been involved in a number of internet defamation of character dealing with Libel (written word) and Slander (spoken word):
- Defamatory posts on social networks where we were successful at identifying the anonymous poster
- Web-site postings or “web graffiti.” where we have been able to track down the perpetrator
- Anonymous e-mails where we have been able to successfully track and identify the “anonymous” e-mailer
- Posted Video footage
How Vestige assists in Defamation matters
- Trace e-mail back through receiving and sending systems to learn identity of individual
- Assist with creation of subpoenas and/or John Doe law suits to gain subpoena power
- Create formal requests and assist with subpoena requests to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other content custodians
- Work with “site administrators” to remove defamatory information
- Track and identify “anonymous” posters
- Verify/validate activities on a “suspect” computer to rule-in/rule-out whether that device was a source for the defamatory action
Comment on Anonymity on the Internet. While we as computer forensics experts love to report that we can always track down the source of a defamatory action, there are a lot of factors that need to be considered, including the amount of time that has elapsed since the action, cooperation amongst the various sources of data such as ISPs, e-mail providers, social networking site, web-host, etc., what information is captured by the source and how long it is kept as well as the use of anti-forensic and anonymizing software. That being said, with the use of digital computer forensics Vestige has been successful in these digital defamation of character cases due to our deep understanding of the technical nature of these kinds of attacks as well as our understanding and ability to work within the legal system to get results.