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Censorship The Internet

GoDaddy Silences RateMyCop.com 561

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-mighty-suspicious dept.
mikesd81 writes "Wired is running a story about GoDaddy shutting down a police watchdog site called RateMyCop. However, GoDaddy can't seem to give a consistent answer as for why. From the article: 'RateMyCop founder Gino Sesto says he was given no notice of the suspension. When he called GoDaddy, the company told him that he'd been shut down for suspicious activity. When Sesto got a supervisor on the phone, the company changed its story and claimed the site had surpassed its 3 terabyte bandwidth limit, a claim that Sesto says is nonsense. "How can it be overloaded when it only had 80,000 page views today, and 400,000 yesterday?" Sesto says police can post comments as well, and a future version of the site will allow them to authenticate themselves to post rebuttals more prominently. Chief Dyer wants to get legislation passed that would make RateMyCop.com illegal, which, of course, wouldn't pass constitutional muster in any court in America.'"
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GoDaddy Silences RateMyCop.com

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  • 1984 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:05PM (#22730454) Homepage
    I am hopeful that mankind can avoid ending up like in 1984, for the simple reason that the same technology that enables today's widespread spying by our government on its own citizens can also be leveraged to help us keep tabs on them. Even if they make sites like this one illegal, they will be hosted elsewhere. Furthermore, unless they figure out how to take away all of our camera cell phones, tiny solid state audio recorders, etc then we will continue to have vastly more power to document police corruption than we did just 10 years ago when you'd have to have a camcorder at hand, charged and with a tape in it, to capture anything.

    I might even go so far as to say that I'd _like_ to see the government try and crack down on sites like this (and wikileaks etc), as this will only draw more attention to the problem, causing replication of the data and hastening the process of smart people finding even better general solutions for circumventing censorship.

    The current situation in America really does look like 1984 already - not just the spying and media manipulation, but also the continuous fearmongering and blatant lies to justify this protracted and costly war. However I believe there really is hope for us to turn this around, and that the solution lies in leveraging the internet, encryption, and the same technologies being used now to spy on us. Let's keep finding better ways to protect information, let's keep uncovering the corruption, and let's turn this around before it's too late.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Penguinisto (415985)
      It's not that simple...

      There is a legitimate concern for cops that do go undercover (they tend to do so off and on throughout a career), in that once they do, there's a big, fat online database that folks can check against before even asking "are you a cop?". This can present a legitimate danger if there's pictures or other personally identifiable information right there on the site.

      There is a superior need for transparency in any society, but sometimes that has to be balanced against personal safety -

      • by sdedeo (683762) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:31PM (#22730814) Homepage Journal
        As for the 1984 allegories? I suspect that you all-too easily attribute to malice what can be more easily attributed to incompetence, greed, and disparate desires that happen to run in parallel.

        I suspect that you all-too easily assume that the erosion of our freedoms is driven mainly by malicious intent.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by plague3106 (71849)
        Right, because the site ALSO had pictures, and undercover cops use their REAL names. We should keep this site shut down then.
      • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:46PM (#22731046)

        it would be easier to put a colony on Mars than to organize that gaggle into any sort of overlord-type Big Brother organization...

        I've often rolled my eyes when people have suggested varying data-collection-from-various-agencies kind of conspiracies; here in Massachusetts, they can't even handle informing the Registry of Motor Vehicles when you've paid a parking ticket that was overdue.

        However, competence and thoroughness are not necessary to suppress and control. You can have a third world dictator whose goons are lazy slobs and sleep all day and never manage to come to the right conclusions on investigations when they're not taking naps. What makes them feared is whether they run around shooting people.

        Want a great example? The TSA. They're feared and hated, and it has nothing to do with them being thorough or competent. Tests have repeatedly shown that they miss more than half the stuff secret testers try to sneak by. Rather, it is their complete ineptitude and nearly limitless power- you never know if you're going to get pulled out for additional screening, or told your car key is a 'switchblade' key and thus can't be allowed on, or told to drink your own breast milk because agents think it's liquid explosives instead of milk for your baby, or, or, or...and there's always the thought that you could end up in Gitmo with a black bag over your head 18 hours a day.

        In fact, incompetence and power are more likely to suppress the population, because now they can't even count on living by keeping their noses squeaky clean.

      • There is a legitimate concern for cops that do go undercover (they tend to do so off and on throughout a career), in that once they do, there's a big, fat online database that folks can check against before even asking "are you a cop?". This can present a legitimate danger if there's pictures or other personally identifiable information right there on the site.

        Where in the US Constitution is the right to conduct undercover investigations, or to do so free from risk? Or to conveniently use the same offic

      • fuck undercover (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Deanalator (806515) <pierce403@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @03:25PM (#22731598) Homepage
        You know what? Fuck undercover cops. The idea that my tax dollars go towards tricking people into doing illegal activities annoys me to no end. This website has far more potential for good than bad. Hell, I am a clean looking law biding white male, and I have been arrested and lied to by police. Just last week I had three rifles pointed at me by overzealous police. A friend of mine from Kenya who has never committed a crime in his life gets thrown down on the street with guns pointed at his head about once a month. How the fuck is that fair, or even legal?

        I should mention that I live in Portland, Oregon. We have one of the lowest crime rates in the country. Whenever there is a story of a shooting on the news, it is most likely a police officer shooting an unarmed man. A few years back, police tasered a man to death while he was still in his car with his seatbelt on. The excuse that the police gave was that it looked like he was putting drugs in his mouth.

        A couple summers ago, in the neighborhood I grew up in (A peaceful lower middle class suburban neighbourhood, I never heard of a crime anywhere in the area the entire 18 years I lived there), a woman called the police saying that her 18 year old son was suicidal, and he needed help. When the police arrived, three officers shot him a total of 8 times in the back.
        http://blog.oregonlive.com/washingtoncounty/2008/01/previous_stories_and_the_tort.html [oregonlive.com]

        These police officers are all back on duty doing their regular routines after murdering all of these people. These are the people that are protecting and serving me. This is why we need services like this.
        • Re:fuck undercover (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @04:02PM (#22732020)

          Fuck undercover cops. The idea that my tax dollars go towards tricking people into doing illegal activities annoys me to no end.

          That is entrapment. It is illegal, and the evidence cannot be used in court. On the other hand, I would like police to be able to infiltrate criminal organizations and gather evidence.

          Hell, I am a clean looking law biding white male, I have been arrested and lied to by police. Just last week I had three rifles pointed at me by overzealous police.

          Most people with an attitude like yours bring it on themselves. If you are polite to the cops, then things tend to work out. If you are rude, they do so less so. Is it ideal from a moral standpoint? Probably not. But it does work.

      • by davidsyes (765062) * on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @03:28PM (#22731638) Homepage Journal
        ilians? Other cops can turn on them, too. Just look at the book about the LAPD, in which the author wrote because his fellow LAPD cops decided he was a risk to their clandestine, domestic-CIA-like ops. They shot up his house from a moving motorcycle, sent him messages to conform, and so on.

        Cops who are problems to other cops sometimes get dispatched to an "upcoming shootout" radioed as a domestic disturbance or petty theft or 2-11 in progress, or something. If s/he's riding alone, it's easier to take him out. The shoot out starts, s/he agonizingly awaits non-arriving backup, and other radios and their freqs are blacked out or knowingly ignored until it's pretty certain that s/he's a a gonner.

        i've sometimes tell people that the Rodney King incident would NOT have happened had things been different. Oh, you ask, "what?" Well, as i understand (read/heard from a source), it was a FEMALE CHP officer in pursuit, but she was (purportedly) bullied by LAPD officers assisting in the pursuit. If this is true, then since CHP has authority to pursue and arrest just about ANYwhere in the state, whereas local LE has to make a courtesy request (can't have Rosemead police running over Glendale or Burbank pedestrians or crashing into property outside PD jurisdiction...), she recalled the history of "The Jungle's" PD (LAPD) and knowing she was outnumbered and could be felled, she likely assented to their demand to take him into custody themselves. Likely THEY wanted him because he had a history with them.

        So, had SHE taken custody of him, the LA Riots might VERY WELL not have happened.

        A rate-my-cop system might very well have weeded out overly-aggressive cops and forced them to resign or STAY undercover instead of interacting with the general public. I'm not for "rooting out and endangering" u/c cops. I'm just saying, just as in war and spying, they KNOW the risks/statistics when putting on the uniform, taking/making the oath, and hitting the beat or warrant task. I'm not trying to be inhumane. It's a dirty, dangerous job at times. Not one I'd rather do, mainly because i'm not one for suppressing corruption and malfeasance if I see it. So, DEFINITELY, i'd be set up for a fall, most likely, if I were a cop in a PD of over, say, 2 officers.
    • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gat0r30y (957941) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:40PM (#22730948) Homepage Journal

      Even if they make sites like this one illegal, they will be hosted elsewhere.
      And here we have the crux of the problem. This type of information is public. You got arrested? Its in the public record. The cop's name had better be on the ticket. He better show up at court. Anyone with internet access can get this information, so what is the fundamental difference between the court records and this site? Feedback from the arrested, True or False, is the only real addition. While there may be a valid argument against putting all of these cops' information in one place, the argument that it increases the danger for the police involved doesn't really hold water.
      I believe that this additional layer of transparency is helpful. Cops should embrace it, and try to be the best darned cops they can be so they get good ratings on the site. It isn't easy to make an arrest and leave a good impression. But if a cop is a real jerk, there shouldn't be anything preventing someone from posting that on the internet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by joeytsai (49613)
      Of the dystopian futures we've imagined, one like that in 1984 is the one most people think of and are worried by. Things like this happen, and usually get addressed, but you are correct - technology has been great in informing and empowering people. I don't like this administration's secrecy nor its manipulation of the press, but if you think this is like 1984 you need to relax and exercise your imagination a bit. Things need to get much better, but people are at least aware of and dealing with their ru
  • Hot or not? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Izabael_DaJinn (1231856) * <slashdot@@@izabael...com> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:06PM (#22730468) Homepage Journal
    I want a site with all their pictures so I can rate them 1-10 based on looks alone.

    Hot-or-not-cop.com.

  • by Paeva (1176857) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:08PM (#22730498) Homepage
    ratemycop.com is back up now... which makes this story pretty uninteresting.
  • When a company gets to a certain size, particularly relative to the industry it is in, it begins to associate more and more with various branches of government. Lobbying begins, favors are asked and given, and in the end government branches get their very own wiretap rooms in the offices of the naturally "private company".

    GoDaddy is the largest registrar and webhost. Do you think, even for one second, that they would dare sully their good relations with government by allow a "seditious" site like ratemycop.com to exist on their servers? Of course, we can talk about the rights of "private companies" and "free association", but lets face it; that's mostly a crock of shit.

    Western governments no longer officially nationalize companies. They now get the companies to come into the fold all by themselves.
  • by hax0r_this (1073148) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:11PM (#22730534)
    Who the hell is Chief Dyer? Some actor or something? Why should I have heard of them?
    • Re:Chief Dyer? (Score:4, Informative)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:19PM (#22730650)

      Chief Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, voices what sounds like a more honest concern: that officers will face "unfair maligning" by the citizens they serve.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MightyMartian (840721)
        You mean sort of how sometimes the citizens they serve are unfairly maligned by baseless charges?

        My oh my, but why should being hoisted by your own petard not be permitted?
  • The ONLY valid reasons I can come up with why anyone would want this site down are the exposing of undercover officers (not good for anyone, especially the undercover cops, except the criminals they're infiltrating) and the usual state of online abuse anyone who posts to a forum is subject to (but maybe the David Brame [thenewstribune.com] tragedy could have been better avoided had there been more voicing of his abuses?).

    Reasons not valid... oh, those are numerous and probably why the cops freaked and GoDaddy's knees buckled.
    • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) <curmudgeon99@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:15PM (#22730580)
      I disagree. The police have tremendous powers and a despicable thing called: "discretion". On my street, I watched two cops go down the street and give out parking tickets, which is legal. Then, this one guy ran out of his house and complained. He pulled some card out of his wallet and showed it to the cop. The cop responded by tearing up the ticket. Now, what do you think that guy showed the cop to make him reverse a legally given ticket? It's the discretion of the cops that is so unfair: they have the capability to pick and choose who they enforce laws against. This is the primary reason why sites such as this are valid.
      • by PeterBrett (780946) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:20PM (#22730662) Homepage

        Then, this one guy ran out of his house and complained. He pulled some card out of his wallet and showed it to the cop. The cop responded by tearing up the ticket. Now, what do you think that guy showed the cop to make him reverse a legally given ticket?

        Maybe the guy was the driver for a disabled guy, and the card was proof of disabled vehicle exemption to parking restrictions in that area?

        Don't be too quick to assume corruption.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by curmudgeon99 (1040054)
          He was parked across a drive way of another house. I did not relate to you but it was clearly illegal where he was parked and the cops had given him a legal ticket. It was merely discretion.
          • by name_already_taken (540581) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:52PM (#22731116)
            A former employee of my company had a handicapped parking permit, and she was told by the police that because of her handicapped parking permit, in Illinois the parking rules basically did not apply to her. She could pretty much park anywhere and not get a ticket. She'd park all day in the two hour parking spaces on the street, park across the lines, you name it - and there was nothing the police could do - nor did they make any attempt.

            Had she been blocking traffic, that might have been another question, but the simple reality of it was that she never got a parking ticket in a town that lives on parking ticket income.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sabt-pestnu (967671)

        Now, what do you think that guy showed the cop to make him reverse a legally given ticket?

        Perhaps proof that it was his house? With a tale of how he was just in-and-out, and thus the equivalent of "standing" instead of "parked"?

        Some punk kid shoots out my headlight with a BB gun. I'm driving to the store to get a replacement. You're saying I should get pulled over on an equipment violation that I'm in the process of correcting?

        How about speeding to the hospital because I've got someone suffering a heart attack in the back seat, and the ambulance would have taken another 10 minutes. I'm doin

      • Doctors for instance have them. Think next time will you?

    • by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:35PM (#22730868) Journal
      The ONLY valid reasons I can come up with why anyone would want this site down are the exposing of undercover officers (not good for anyone, especially the undercover cops, except the criminals they're infiltrating)

      I disagree VEHEMENTLY. I don't think Secret Police belong in any country that claims to be a free society. IMO every police agent should be in uniform with his or her badge prominently displayed. Rather than bring a slashdotting to my site, I'll reproduce a blog posting from September 2005 [mcgrew.info] here in its entirety.

      A few weeks ago while I was eating lunch at Top Cat's on Stevenson, I saw something that unnerved me a little bit.
      Four middle aged men wearing suits were sitting at a nearby table. One of them wore a pistol in a holster, as if he were a character in a TV western, only without the hat.

      Nobody seemed to notice or mind. Of course, I noticed and I minded, but there would have been no way for anybody to notice that I noticed, either. My assumption was that these were cops; they looked like cops.

      But I had a nagging worry. What if they weren't cops? What if they were here to rob and kill the restaraunt's workers and patrons?

      What if they were cops and another Secret Policeman from another jurisdiction (say, the county or state) mistook them for thugs and bullets started flying?

      I didn't even finish my beer that day. As soon as my lunch was done I was out of there. I'm uncomfortable around firearms, having been taught firearm safety and hunting at a young age. I mean, shit happens, you know?

      The Secret Police are more commonly referred to in the mainstream media as "undercover agents" or "undercover police," and their sole function is to enforce laws that should never been passed, such as alcohol prohibition in the 1920s or anti-prostitution laws today. Laws that nobody is going to call the police for because nobody is victimized by those crimes that should not be criminal.

      "The prostitute is the pimp's victim," the authoritarian anti-freedom busybodies whine. If so, why does this victim wind up in jail? These laws make little sense to me.

      Besides, if prostitution were legal I could get laid. But that is beside this post's point. And trying to stick to the point I'm not going to mince words and use euphamisms like "undercover" but call them what they really are: the Secret Police, not at all unlike Soviet Russia's Secret Police or Hitler's Facist Secret Police, or the Secret Police in Communist China.

      They're not "undercover agents" dammit, they're Secret Police. 1984 may have been a little late, but Orwell was wrong about one thing- when the city council voted to put the spy cameras on 5th street last week (sorry, I can't find a link) they neglected to vote for any money for the "Big Brother is watching!" posters.

      Cameras everywhere and Secret Police. Our freedom has been gone for quite some time now. The 9-11 terrorists only speeded up a process that was already underway.

      But back to the Secret Police.

      Today I heard on the news that what I feared at Top Cat's happened at the Citrus Bowl yesterday. At the inevitable tailgate party, the Secret Police were (of course) sneakily wandering through the crowd pretending to be football fans when a drunken brawl broke out.

      A Secret Policeman intervened, and while trying to break up the fight, drew his weapon and fired into the air. Another cop saw this, assumed logically and rationally that this was an armed drunken brawler and shot him dead, in the back.

      He died slowly, coughing up blood. The news reports I saw didn't say whether the cop killer was a uniformed police officer or another Secret Policeman.

      Here are a few links to mainstream news about it: The Orlando Sentinal [orlandosentinel.com], the Tampa Bay C [tampabays10.com]

  • At 400,000 page views per day * 30 days = 12,000,000 page views. At 250k per page view, doesn't that equal 3 TB?

    Maybe I'm missing something, but that doesn't seem too absurd. Someone tell me where my math is off...
    • At 400,000 page views per day * 30 days = 12,000,000 page views. At 250k per page view, doesn't that equal 3 TB?

      Where did you get the 30 days from?

    • by Tack (4642)
      TFA says the site went live on Feb 28 and was taken down on March 11. That's not quite 30 days. Also, where are you getting the 250KB per page view figure? That's pretty huge, even for today's bloated wide web.
    • by esocid (946821)
      That wasn't the average. He simply said one day had 80,000 views and the next day had 400,000. If had that many for 30 consecutive days then you may be right.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:15PM (#22730582) Homepage Journal
    How soon before someone starts selling Streisand Effect World Tour t-shirts?

    This will earn its place on the list for sure.
  • by hilather (1079603) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:17PM (#22730622)
    This is not the first time GoDaddy has shut down sites without notice or just cause. Fyodor's seclist was shut down by them quite some time ago.

    Our popular SecLists.Org public mailing list archive is back up and running after it was inexcusably shut down with no notice by our soon-to-be-former domain registrar GoDaddy at the behest of MySpace.Com. We believe web site content is the responsibility of the site owner (registrant) and (if that fails) hosting or bandwidth provider. If the whois contact data is valid, registrars shouldn't be involved without a court order.
    They even started up a website to document the poor customer service GoDaddy provides http://nodaddy.com/ [nodaddy.com]
  • by warrior_s (881715) * <kindle3@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:20PM (#22730666) Homepage Journal
    If cops are not doing anything illegal they have nothing to hide..

    We should definitely have websites like this.
  • by Rampantbaboon (946107) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:23PM (#22730706)
    AFAIK this site went down after it was mentioned on Fark last night. That could easily surpass the limit for a GoDaddy hosted site.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by H310iSe (249662)
      Wrote GoDaddy here's the response in full - I don't know if it's reasonable or not.

      Office of the President Response
      Dear xxx,

      The situation with the Web site RateMyCop was absolutely NOT about censorship in ANY way.

      The site's operator has publicly disclosed the concerns were over bandwidth. More accurately, Go Daddy's concerns were about how the RateMyCop site was far exceeding the amount of server usage for which it had contracted.

      This customer paid for a shared server plan. The connections to his site were
  • I've been using them for domain hosting and e-mail hosting. Their e-mail service is letting a ton of spam through and rejecting at least 4 of my customers for reasons that are, at best, dubious. I have had those customers send to me at gmail and they have not had trouble.

    I'm moving off godaddy.
  • by scenestar (828656) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:25PM (#22730730) Homepage Journal
    become a participant for http://www.copwatch.org/ [copwatch.org] .

    All you gotta do is just simply watch the police go about their usuall routine. If they threaten you to leave remind them that they are public servants and that you are fully within the scope of the law if doing so

    Go on and observe, It is your patriotic duty!
  • you can do better... (Score:4, Informative)

    by one_red_eye (962010) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:34PM (#22730852) Homepage
    ... than GoDaddy. It just goes to show if you're not running a website that shows all people in a light and happy and cheery manner, don't use GoDaddy hosting or GoDaddy DNS registration services. They've interfered with other sites as well, if they cannot shutdown your website, they'll just turn off the DNS resolution for your IP address like they did with Seclists.Org http://seclists.org/nmap-hackers/2007/0000.html [seclists.org]

    GoDaddy is the Self-Proclaimed Internet Police and just because they have the ability to interfere with certain websites they think it's OK. Of course they'll argue Terms of Service, but no company should be able to interfere with one's First Amendment rights. Also why should they want to disable websites in this manner anyway? All the negative press must affect their profit margin.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pavera (320634)
      Where?

      There are horror stories about every domain registrar I've heard of, Verisign, register.com, network solutions, they charge way too much, and there are a huge number of bad stories about all of them... Horrible customer service, domain front running, and I'm sure they pull domains at a moments notice too.

      The other options are small time bit players that you have to worry will go out of business and take your domain with them.

      So... what is your list of A grade registrars?
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @03:44PM (#22731820) Homepage

    Right now, it looks like the site is being moved. The name "ratemycop.com" is registered with "name.com", not GoDaddy. GoDaddy was providing hosting only. So moving it to another server is easy.

    Checking with the authoritative name server for the domain (NS1.MYCPANELHOST.INFO), we get back [205.234.222.18] [205.234.222.18] as the IP address. That's actually "mycpanelhost.info", indicating this is a site using named virtual hosting (many domains on the same IP address). So addressing the site by IP address just gets you a default "Welcome to Apache" page.

    The new IP address hasn't propagated through DNS yet. My local DNS is returning "Addresses: 72.167.159.53, 205.234.222.18". That 72.167.159.53 address is the old GoDaddy address. There's a 7 day TTL on the DNS entry, with 6 days 5 hours to go, so it may take a while for the DNS system to purge the GoDaddy address worldwide. Some users are seeing the new site; some are seeing the old GoDaddy page.

    GoDaddy is already out of the picture and has no control over the site. We're just waiting for DNS propagation, after which the new site should be visible everywhere.

  • by harrumph (178433) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @04:00PM (#22732004)
    In light of comments against this sort of site in general, I wish to point out a couple of things:

    Those in positions of power must not have the same protections as those who are powerless.

    1: The position of police officer is a position of great power.

    2: The position of police officer is extremely attractive to sociopaths [wikipedia.org].

    3: Some (many) police agencies are--umm--less than perfect at filtering out these especially-eager applicants. Some departments do not filter at all (i.e. they don't perform personality inventories on applicants), with the obvious results. Given that non-sociopaths generally strongly dislike working with sociopaths, it stands to reason that these departments quickly become dominated by the latter. I've lived in city with a police department that did not test its applicants for mental disorders, and that's a large part of the reason I now live in a city with a police department that does.

    4: It does not make sense to give a person in a position of power all the protections that are afforded to others. For those in a position to cause suffering to members of society, the interest of the society in preventing abuse clearly outweighs the interest of the individual. (If you want all the usual job protections, don't pursue a job that lets you hurt people.)

    Yes, some police officers will be treated unfairly in such a forum. Some will be publicly embarrassed when they don't deserve it. If the forum is effective, some will lose their jobs when they shouldn't. I would think it would even make undercover operations more difficult. All these issues are far outweighed by the benefit of exposing those who should not be allowed to be in positions of power.

  • civilian oversight (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sentientbrendan (316150) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @04:12PM (#22732128)
    Most police forces in the US are pretty hostile to the idea of any kind of kind of civilian oversight. I can sympathize to some degree because cops by the nature of their job have to do things that civilians don't like. They aren't out there to pick up the trash and mow your lawn, they are out there to maintain civic order, which means keeping civilians in line.

    However, there are enough bad cops, and enough other cops who will protect their own even if they are doing something clearly wrong, that *some* kind of civilian oversight is needed most places to avoid the worst abuses. That said, I think this board is a really bad idea, and is actually probably illegal.

    First, why it is a bad idea:

    The fact is that it will get a lot harder for police to do their job if anonymous systems like this become widely used. Anyone from someone receiving traffic ticket, to someone who got busted for heroin trafficking can them go online and anonymously pretend to be some totally innocent guy who suffered horrible police brutality for no reason whatsoever by officer John D. Law. Hell, people could go online from *jail* and talk smack about their arresting officer in a totally anonymous system.

    Second, why this is probably illegal:
    Libel and slander are and always have been illegal. The fact that it happens on "the intertubes" where information "wants to be free" does not change the law. If you start false rumors (the false part is important here) about someone being a murderer or something equally horrible and that person can't get a job and their wife leaves them, etc because of it, that person can legally sue the crap out of you. To make this clear why this is, consider if there were a website called "ratemyemployee" and people could go online anonymously and say that they were your boss and give you a performance review. Now, since that person did not have to identify himself, he could be anybody including some random guy you never worked for who had a grudge against you. You could easily lose your current job and not be able to find a new one in such a situation. Suing the person who started the rumor provides a way to clear your name in court and get monetary compensation.

    As it stands, the web site may be liable for slander or libel if they don't give up information on who posted.

    I think the correct thing to do is for the site to hold users contact information in escrow, and to provide some kind of means of redress, without immediately handing out addresses to police officers who just want to find out who talked smack about them. Futhermore, the site itself should probably require a contract is signed and make it clear it will fine users if they make a habit of posting slander on their site.

    People on both end, police and civilians, need to be held accountable for their actions.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen

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