How much info is needed to trace someone?

  Sapins 14:25 01 May 2006

This has been niggling me since a few weeks back when FE informed a poster that he could find a solicitors letter on his doormat for posting A libelous comment. Now, how would PCA know where to send such a letter? Can the address be traced from just an e-mail address?. I have not given any personal information when I registered. If so how do you find someone from an e-mail address?

  Haol 15:42 01 May 2006

Well, I think that all that is needed is an IP adress or a MAC address. FE could find out the ISP of the culprit and then follow it up with the ISP but I highly doubt that the ISP would give FE the address of the culprit unless the whole of PCAdvisor or amybe even IDG followed it up.

  spuds 17:16 01 May 2006

In the UK, all sorts of privacy laws should help to prevent access and misuse to a persons private details, unless agreed at a certain time by all parties.But like all things of this nature, there are ways and means of locating someone, if you know the correct route and procedures.

In the case of finding someone through an email address, then your ISP could have this information via your account details. Assuming of course, that you did not set up a proxy account!.

Possibly,when the FE made the remark on-line, he was only speaking in jest!!

  wee eddie 17:20 01 May 2006

I don't think that FE would be sending such a letter.

However the publishers of PCA could be prosecuted for publishing a libel and the person libelled would be attempting to find it's source.

A considerable part of FE's job will be monitoring the site to ensure that PCA and it's publishers are not sued.

  Forum Editor 17:46 01 May 2006

you're jumping to conclusions, Sapins.

I said that someone might find a solicitor's letter on their mat if they libelled someone on this forum, I didn't say it would be from our solicitors.

Anyone who uses the internet does so via an ISP, and each time that person connects to the ISP he/she is allocated an IP address dynamically. That address identifies them (or more correctly the computer they used) uniquely - every computer on the planet that is connected to the Internet at any one time has a different IP address - we'll leave computers that are behind routers out of the equation for simplicity.

IP addresses are logged by web servers, and operators of web servers will provide information about an individual's IP address on any particular occasion , when (and only when) required to do so by law. An authorised agency can compel an ISP to provide the name and address of the individual behind that IP address, and so contact the person concerned.

At PCA will not provide anyone with details of your IP address, unless we are compelled to do so by law. In fact, we won't provide anyone with any information about you at all - unless we are so compelled, so please relax.

As wee eddie has said, an important aspect of my work with the forum is concerned with protecting the magazine's publishers from receiving libel writs. In the unlikely case of someone suing for damages for libel it's possible that we, as publishers of the site, would be held 'jointly and severally' liable in law for any libellous comments posted by a forum member. It has happened in the past, when Demon Internet were sued for something that was posted on an online forum hosted by them.

In the main, we would have a good defence if we could demonstrate that we took action to remove a libel as soon as possible after it was posted, and that's why I'm particularly keen to make such deletions as and when I spot them, or when they're drawn to my attention. I have no intention of exposing the magazine to the possibility of a libel writ if I can help it.

I hope that helps put your mind at rest - now let's get on with business, the chances of a libel action are extremely small, and nobody needs to worry as long as we all exercise a little commonsense.

  namtas 18:10 01 May 2006

"However the publishers of PCA could be prosecuted for publishing a libel"

Very unlikely that they ever would, the Defamation act of 1996 had this very point in mind when it came into being

It provides a defence to persons who are not authors, editors or commercial publishers of the statement if they took reasonable care in relation to its publication.

Of course reasonable care is not defined.

Of course it is safer to warn off hence the words

  Forum Editor 18:41 01 May 2006

Unfortunately, the Defamation act of 1996 wasn't the slightest help to Demon Internet in 2000 when they had to pay damages amounting to £15000 to someone who was libelled in a web forum. Their legal costs were a very great deal more than £15000, and all in all it was a highly expensive experience for them. The crux of the subject is that "reasonable care" clause.

More recently in March of this year, Michael Smith was awarded £10,000 in damages against Tracey Smith, who posted libellous comments about him in an online web forum in 2002. Another libeller settled out of court for £12,500. This is believed to be the first occasion on which an individual online forum member was sued for libel, and it is anticipated that it will lead to more actions being brought in the future. Mr. Smith is quoted as saying: "firms hosting online chat rooms should be prepared to get involved and step in to moderate defamatory statements."

Tracey Smith was tracked down when Mr. Smith and his solicitors obtained a court order compelling NTL to disclose her personal details. She failed to provide a defence to her statements, and a summary judgment was obtained. Mr. Smith intends to pursue Tracey Williams for the damages, and has said he will bankrupt her if necessary.

Talking about the judgment Richard Shillito, a partner at the law firm Farrer & Co. said "The obvious and immediate potential ramification is that there will be more cases like this," One sees on these sites particularly unrestrained comments that people make in the heat of the moment without thinking of the legal consequences. A lot of people post anonymously but it is possible to find out people's identity. I think people should read this judgment as a warning to be more careful about their comments."

In this case the publishers of the online forum (Yahoo) were not joined in the action because - in Mr. Smith's words - "I considered suing Yahoo! but their discussion board is hosted in the US and falls outside UK law. I contacted them many times and all they suggested was that I talk directly with the moderator of the forum. It wasn't until a lot later that they agreed to remove the offending posts from the site."

These are serious matters, and I repeat - I am not going to expose the magazine to a possible action for libel damages if I can help it. I'm also acting to protect individual forum members - as you can see, they are far from safe if they libel someone in these threads.

  Sapins 20:06 01 May 2006

Thanks for that FE. I was more curious than worried, but, you have made it clearer for me.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

Elsewhere on IDG sites

iPhone X review

Political cartoons in 2017: Chris Riddell, Rebecca Hendin and Dave Brown on what it’s like to…

The best iPhone for 2017

Tennis : comment regarder la finale de la Coupe Davis 2017 ?