Defamed online

How we helped tackle online defamation for a client

The problem

A website contained a number of allegations about the client and was refusing to engage in discussion or provide evidence that the allegations had any foundation in truth. The client's solicitor had sent a cease and desist notice to who he thought was responsible for the website, but no action had been taken.

We were asked to inspect the site to see if we could determine who was responsible for the posted allegations.

How we helped

Using public data sources, we quickly determined that the address the solicitor had written to was not correct, because the domain name being used was registered through an anonymising third party. These anonymisers guaranteed that they would NOT forward any communications to the real domain registrant, so the solicitor's letter had, effectively, been put straight into the bin.

We took an alternative approach and found where the website was really hosted (remember that a domain name and webhost don't have to be arranged through the same company) and did some more work to trace the historic ownership of the domain name.

It turned out that, although the domain was registered via a Canadian anonymiser, the site itself was hosted in Australia, and previous owners of the domain were also in Australia. This information, combined with other content on the site, led us to believe that the person or persons responsible for the defamation were probably based in Australia too. Other bits of history allowed us to suggest a particular organisation which was likely to be connected.

Our advice

We suggested that the solicitor should send a cease and desist notice to the real hosting company rather than the anonymous domain registrant, and that further enquiries should be made with the previous owner of the domain to confirm who it had been transferred to. If our suspicions about the organisation behind the site were confirmed, they should be contacted too.

This advice was followed and the defaming content was removed by the hosting company.

Cost to the client ?

About 1/2 a day of our time, a small fraction of what the damage to his reputation would have cost him.

If you have a similar problem, please contact n-gate ltd. now.