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."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Mike C. (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 6:26am

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

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    - Ben Franklin

     

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      gorehound (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 6:45am

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

      When can we just all March On Washington and take out all the Greed & Corruption ?
      You Politicians can shove your SOPA/PIPA/CISPA where the sun don't shine !!!!

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 7:02am

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

        It's called voting, and precious few people can be bothered to do so, sadly.

         

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          Trails (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 7:58am

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

          "You have the right to choose between a turd and a douche!"

           

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            Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 9:34am

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

            I always looked as it as a choice between feasting on a pile of elephant shit or donkey shit. Either way, you are still eating shit.

             

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          identicon
          MrWilson, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:30am

          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.

           

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            AB, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:35am

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

            I wonder if someone could Kickstart their campaign (or use another form of crowd sourcing)...

             

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              MrWilson, May 30th, 2012 @ 10:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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!"

               

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          Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 9:06am

          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.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 10:43am

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

          Voting is good, but it achieves nothing in a country where citizen can't initiate a referendum.

          Fight for your right to directly decide what the law should be!

           

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            Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 12:22am

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

            That actually seems like a pretty good idea. Something nice and concrete and pragmatic to aspire to.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 12:22am

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

            That actually seems like a pretty good idea. Something nice and concrete and pragmatic to aspire to.

             

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      Seegras (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 4:51am

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

      "It's also true that those who would give up privacy for security are likely to end up with neither." -- Bruce Schneier

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    Its nice that they're admitting what these laws are really about.

     

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      rubberpants, May 30th, 2012 @ 9:23am

      Re:

      Yeah, that pesky Internet - getting all up in everybody's bidness. If only we could break it and go back to the way things were...

       

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    John Doe, May 30th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    Think of the letterhead!

    How did they print their letterhead after their logo was stolen?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    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!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 7:02am

    HAHAHAHA

    So much for "the definition of copyright hasn't changed" and "things suck now because you derailed SOPA" and "SOPA wouldn't change existing laws".

     

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    G Thompson (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    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: http://uniquemethod.com/review-of-webimax-seo-practices-and-rankings

    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.

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 4:35pm

      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.

       

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    Lord Binky, May 30th, 2012 @ 7:49am

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

    "I agree with that sentiment. Id 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.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 7:52am

    Colon Pain

    Man, some people just get all sorts of butt-hurt when their incompetence is pointed out, eh?

    Sounds like this guy needs less ego and more self realization.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 7:56am

    has this guy got any common sense, any brains, at all, or is he as i suspect, just a thick freakin' idiot that talks the same horse shit as Congress when trying to justify the complete f**k ups they make? if he cant stand the heat of the internet, get out of the kitchen! prat!!

     

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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 7:58am

    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".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:04am

    Kenneth Wisnefski... you're a twat.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    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 VendorSeek.com 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? "

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:10am

    In that case

    Twitter is fucked. How many parody accounts are on that?

     

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    Ron, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:16am

    Sounds like some of Eric Dezenhall's work

    http://eurekajournals.org/eureka/index.php?title=Eric_Dezenhall

    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.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 8:24am

    Wait, what?

    So I'm confused... he says he wants those bills to be passed, or in the case of SOPA reintroduced and then passed so he can go after sites that made him look bad. In saying so his statement just made him and his company look way worse than the sites mocking him ever could.

    So is he just mad they mocked him poorly?

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 4:44pm

      Re: Wait, what?

      That could be but is that worth invoking the Streisand Effect when no one of any importance had ever heard of you?

      They have now!

      LOL

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:26am

    Now people are going to become interested in just what WebiMax has been up to. Considering how desperate this guy is to keep his former customers' complaints bottled up, there must be some pretty interesting skeletons in that closet...

     

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    Beta (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 8:26am

    "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.

     

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    MrWilson, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    "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?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    "I've come to the conclusion that the protection businesses would get from the legislation is worth sacrificing privacy."

    We'll why didnt you say so /s

     

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    Yakko Warner (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 8:41am

    Get some nerds in Congress

    See, this is why they need to get some nerds -- or, in other words, subject matter experts -- to tell them what it is they're voting on, instead of just relying on well-paid (and well-paying) industry lobbyists making things up.

     

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    Duke (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 8:42am

    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?

     

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      G Thompson (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 8:57am

      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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    Watchit (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 8:48am

    Oh no! someone made fun of someone else on the Internet! better throw out the first amendment in order to stop this atrocity.

     

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    Joe Blow, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:58am

    Where's the parody site?

    Is it still up somewhere or maybe a cached version of it? Can someone post a link to it.

     

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    techflaws.org (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 9:00am

    I'm still baffled to see anyone argue SEO (aka gaming the system) is a legitimate business.

     

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      rubberpants, May 30th, 2012 @ 9:25am

      Re:

      I think lobbyists (aka gaming the system) see themselves as a legitimate business as well. There's a theme here.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 6:31am

      Re:

      It's not (a legitimate business). ALL SEO operations are scams.

       

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        TtfnJohn (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 4:48pm

        Re: Re:

        And after paying them tons of money, not just for that but for "reputation management" someone will tap you on the shoulder and tell you that Google, Yahoo and Bing are wise to him and his ilk and they probably get the site downgraded if they use him!

        Oh, and for reputation management. Someone just managed to wreck his own!

         

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    Simple Mind (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    it is not his privacy to trade with

    Notice that he thinks it is worth it to give up yours, mine, and everyone's privacy to protect his business. Yeah, big sacrifice he is making there.

     

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    tom, May 30th, 2012 @ 11:59am

    wait a minute..

    This guy was an SEO / Marketing "expert" but couldn't figure out how to promote his own business over a clear impostor?

     

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    phil, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:36pm

    CwF RtB - SEO

    A wise man once said.

    Connect with your fans! Give them a Reason to Browse

    A lot of your SEO work will be done.

     

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    TurboKitty, May 30th, 2012 @ 10:41pm

    Seriously?

    Boo HOO ... too bad someone offended his tender sensibilities ... like he really matters any more than anyone else does ... FAIL

     

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    quawonk, May 31st, 2012 @ 4:32am

    But people who are concerned that it'll be used for censorship are just talking crazy!

     

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    dewtheone, May 31st, 2012 @ 7:17am

    Retaliation

    Tech Dirt... better be careful what you post about this company. They'll most likely sue you and everyone commenting for defamation for repeating the details of the parody site, along with any other negative comments. You'll make him cry. :'(

     

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    identicon
    Kenny Barton, May 31st, 2012 @ 10:55am

    0 tolerance for the 1 percent

    quit trying to sell out american liberties to protect your business.

    we're not buying your garbage. :)

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 2:19pm

    DIAF

    Kenneth C Wisnefski can go die in a fire.

     

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    demnutz4ken, Dec 19th, 2013 @ 10:47pm

    webimax past developer

    yeah they suck - but seo is a real thing when you have the proper coder doing it. They need to treat clients and employees the like better to get the results they expect on the peanuts they pay.

     

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