CEO Says SOPA & CISPA Are Needed Because A Disgruntled Customer Once Set Up A Parody Site To Mock Him

from the seriously? dept

The Washington Post is running a rather bizarre op-ed piece from a guy who runs an “internet marketing”/SEO business in which he argues that we need SOPA and CISPA because someone once set up a parody page mocking his business — something that this guy, Kenneth Wisnefski claims is “an attack”:

But after enduring two online attacks to my companies’ reputation and databases, I’ve come to the conclusion that the protection businesses would get from the legislation is worth sacrificing privacy.

About a year ago, my company WebiMax was attacked by a person who stole our logo, created a mock Web site and misappropriated our tagline — Experience, Integrity, Results. He changed it to: “No experience, lack of integrity, no results.” He posted commentary about WebiMax that was false and painted a negative image of us.

We got a preliminary injunction and the hosting company pulled it down. Three months later it popped back up on a hosting company in Ireland that works beyond the boundaries of the law. We believe we would not be going through this if the SOPA measure were in effect.

First of all, a parody page is not “an attack.” Second, setting up a parody page is not “stealing” your logo. It’s just making a copy of it. Most importantly, it’s hard to see how there’s a trademark issue here, because no one would see that page and get confused. Many, many such “sucks sites” have been deemed perfectly legal when it comes to trademark infringement. Now, there may possibly have been a defamation issue — depending on what was stated on the website — but neither SOPA nor CISPA deal with defamation. So, no, the laws would not have helped at all.

From there, he goes on to talk about how in a different company, someone hacked into the company’s database and retrieved credit card info. Because of that, he thinks CISPA makes perfect sense, even if it means that the government might get to read his email:

Opponents of the measures raise the privacy concerns stemming from the government’s proposed authority to monitor online activity and shut down Web sites that violate copyright laws.

I agree with that sentiment. I’d hate to have someone from the government reading my e-mails, too. But the reality is the protection the measures could offer businesses are worth the sacrifice in privacy to prevent another worst-case scenario.

Except… having credit card info your company stored exposed has little to do with CISPA. At the very least, it sounds like someone should have followed much better payment database security techniques… such as encrypting the information. That kind of info is widely available to anyone and has absolutely nothing to do with CISPA. If CISPA was in effect when he had that same database setup, it would have done nothing to have prevented the hacking or to help anyone track down who did it.

I fail to see how “the protection measures” are “worth the sacrifice to privacy” when they wouldn’t have actually helped in either of the cases he mentioned. And, of course, anyone who thinks privacy and security are “trade-offs” doesn’t seem to know enough about either thing. As the slight paraphrase to the old Ben Franklin quote says, “those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

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Companies: webimax

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Comments on “CEO Says SOPA & CISPA Are Needed Because A Disgruntled Customer Once Set Up A Parody Site To Mock Him”

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MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re: Let's just get this out of the way now...

…the effectiveness of which is dependent upon having good candidates to vote for, and apparently precious few good candidates can actually get on the ballot due to the need for money to win a campaign, which necessitates 1% status or wealthy donors who will have strings attached to their donations.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Let's just get this out of the way now...

That seems to be the best compromise. I’d kick in for a Ron Wyden presidential campaign.

Unfortunately, the real solution that I fear will not happen is that we just need to get money out of politics all together, which means that candidates would be banned from taking donations and would be banned from spending money on advertising. Imagine the self-righteous indignation of voters proclaiming, “I don’t want my taxes going to pay for some liberal socialist fascist’s fifteen minutes in front of the camera!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Let's just get this out of the way now...

There’s support, but i dont think its being chanelled very well, not to distinguish whats already been done, it deserves major props, but would be easier if someone created ONE site thats USER FRIENDLY, and provides as much info as possible, less likely for less then tech savy people, to give up when trying to find out what this is all about.

And those ones that vote, will just keep getting their info from their usuall means, and no doubt for some of them, that’ll be corporate media.

Anonymous Coward says:

But… but… someone said mean things about me!

SOPA and CISPA are kids gloves compared to how used to punish people who said mean things about others!

We used to jail and even execute people in the dark ages for saying mean things about nobles and kings! And we used to fight to the death in duels when someone said something mean!

So people saying mean things should be grateful that we’re only stealing all their rights and freedom and online property! You’ll still have a long life of having no rights or online property!

G Thompson (profile) says:

Ah Webimax and Kenneth Wisnefski..

just another bunch of SEO loons who cannot handle negative reviews based on truths about their company.

In reality what they want to stop is anyone stating how SEO doesn’t really work for the service these companies supposedly provide and how its so much puffery and snake oil most of the time. Of course SOPA and CISPA are wanted by this guy (and his cohorts) they would then be able to close down anyone legally stating the bleeding obvious and hosting consumer reports that might have negative connotations.

For example:

would be removed, as would other major consumer reporting places that dare to show negative reviews of customer experiences.

Maybe someone should just create a parody site now of what this dimwit is now stating.. Full of hyperbole, parody and de minimus stupidity that no reasonable person would mistake as truth would be perfect.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem with WebiMax and other SEO “specialists” and those promising a #1 ranking on Google if only you’d sign on their dotted line is that they’re out and out lying.

It’s not all that difficult to do what they promise to do for you, except where some will promise to get a backlink from your hated competitor down the drive. It’s slow and time consuming and a bit frustrating but not all that hard.

Incidentally, having had a quick look at their site and what they promise, along with what they charge, I’m not surprised someone put up a parody site. It just begs to be made fun of.

Lord Binky says:

It's easy to not care when you think it doesn't involve you.

“I agree with that sentiment. I?d hate to have someone from the government reading my e-mails, too.”

That’s because anything important he says is done in a secure room, not e-mail that can later be used against him. He forgot how he should have to have a wire on him 24/7 to be monitored by the government, for the children..oops.. I mean for his protection.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

I’m thinking the parody site might have had a more accurate version of this guy’s tagline. Any argument that wants to throw citizens’ rights under the bus in exchange for tenuous promises of security for corporations is going to be a tough sell for me.

I don’t think any of us signed up for “A government of the People, by the People and for Gigantic Faceless Corporations”.

Anonymous Coward says:

The top comment from the article is very well put:

First, Mr. Wisnefski, it is not “misappropriation” (your word) of your tagline to change it from “experience, integrity, results” to ?no experience, lack of integrity, no results.? That is called legitimate criticism of your business.

Second, this commentary by Kenneth Wisnefski is a great example of why SOPA should NOT have been passed. WebiMax used the court system to stifle online criticism of its business. It sounds like the Defendant (who created the fake WebiMak site) had a reasonably strong defense: because the defendant changed the WebiMax tagline, he could have argued that there was no trademark infringement. That is, an ordinary consumer would not actually believe that the fake website was WebiMax. Rather, a consumer would understand that the fake website was a spoof intended to criticize WebiMax *because* of the fake tagline. Thus, no trademark infringement (not every use of a trademark is infringement). Any material copied from WebiMax would clearly be fair use, used for criticism of WebiMax, and not copyright infringement. It sounds like the defendant (the creator of the fake website) did not bother showing up to court, which is probably why the court ordered the Preliminary Injunction. (Mr. Wisnefski, did the defendant show up?) The defendant likely did not show up because (1) he knew he could change to a foreign web host; (2) it would be expensive; and (3) it may have eliminated his anonymous status (if he had any).

Certainly the creator of the web site has a first amendment right to create a fake web site, criticize WebiMax, and even use the WebiMax logo and content – in some circumstances (e.g., parody, criticism, etc.).

The supporters of SOPA argued that SOPA would only be used in the “worst of the worst” cases where American intellectual property was being ripped off, resulting in lost american jobs. Protecting the reputation of WebiMax is not one of those “worst of the worst” cases. Instead, from the evidence that Wisnefski provided in this article, SOPA would have allowed WebiMax to stifle free speech. And the owners of “foreign web sites” (that SOPA targeted) are very likely not to show up in US court because of the added expense (which would have resulted in unnecessarily blocked websites). Thus, SOPA would give businesses a big tool to stifle criticism – exactly what Mr. Wisnefski apparently wanted to use it for.

Regarding CISPA, it seems that was able to stop the attack on its systems with minimal loss. Way to go VensorSeek! Way to implement good security! So, why is this a reason to destroy our privacy and permit government intrusion on a scale never seen before? “

Ron says:

Sounds like some of Eric Dezenhall's work

He advised PRISM to focus on messages such as “Public access equals government censorship”, and hinted that publishers should try to to equate traditional publishing models with peer review, and “paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles”.

Truth, schmooth, we’re talking perception here.

Beta (profile) says:

“About a year ago, my company WebiMax was attacked by a person who stole our logo…”

I’m reminded of the Goon Show, “Shifting sands”, 1957:

Grytpype-Thynne: Lieutenant Seagoon, we have it on good authority from our milkman that the besieged garrison at Fort Thud on the frontier of Waziristan has lost its union jack.

Seagoon: You mean… our troops don’t know what side they’re on?

C.O: They know which side they’re on… but they can’t prove it.

MrWilson says:

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the protection businesses would get from the legislation is worth sacrificing [the] privacy [of our customers because businesses and not their customers are all that matters.”

I’m glad he cleared that point up for all his customers. It looks like he’s doing a decent enough job of showing people why they shouldn’t use his company. Who needs a parody?

Duke (profile) says:

Ireland still beyond the pale as far as laws go?

We got a preliminary injunction and the hosting company pulled it down. Three months later it popped back up on a hosting company in Ireland that works beyond the boundaries of the law.

So, they just got a preliminary injunction? I know these things are often used as cheap alternatives to trials, but that doesn’t mean he would have won his case (certainly it wouldn’t under English law, where such an injunction just requires a serious question for trial, not something vexatious – and yes, I had an exam on equitable remedies this morning…).

But the main thing that gets me about this is the final part – the suggestion that Ireland is beyond the law – because, obviously, everyone knows that Ireland is a lawless place, with no respect for foreigners, with no rights protecting reputation, copyright, trade marks or whatever other part of law he’s complaining about.

Oh wait, Ireland does have laws, and is subject to three sets of them (national, EU, ECHR), with fundamental rights specifically covering reputation, copyright and trade marks… To my knowledge Ireland doesn’t even have an equivalent of that pesky first amendment to get around. Or was it simply that he couldn’t be bothered to pay an Irish lawyer to file a claim in Ireland?

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Ireland still beyond the pale as far as laws go?

Maybe it was those darn leprechauns stealing his pots of SEO gold…

In an equitable world there would be an ample remedy of making him clean the vats of Guinness whilst quoting Erin poetry in the original Gaelic

PS: Hope you did well in your equity test, and all the rest to the tests you will do this semester (and next)

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