Yahoo Groups in Hot Water over Child P0rn

Source Title:
Yahoo! Sued Over Child Porn On Yahoo Groups
Story Text:

One would expect that being sued for various reasons would be factored into the Yahoo! Groups budget, but it's a nasty wake up call to be sued over child p0rn by the parents of a child whose photo was syndicated on a Y! group...

The lawsuit, filed on May 9 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, charged that Yahoo breached its duties by allowing co-defendant Mark Bates and others to share child p*rn*graphy on a site, called Candyman, that Bates created and moderated via the Yahoo Groups service.

Not only is it an embarrasment to Yahoo, just think what this actually means... better policing of such a service would seem the way forward, but you have to ask why the hell this wasn't caught, and cut out at the get go...



> but you have to ask why the hell this wasn't caught, and cut out at the get go...

I believe the answer is pretty simple: Money! It takes an awfull lot of manual labor time to really check everything and fully automatic filtering is just not perfect either. I am not sure what the right solution is but there is no doubt that portals will have to face up to their liability as more and more people, countries and court rooms will attack these types of cases.


I seem to recall it suggested before that where the company denies any editorial control over the content, then it is not liable for it - thus although Yahoo! will almost certainly remove the illegal material once notified, it would not necessarily be held responsible for publishing it.

insurers are getting funny about it now

Last week I had an interesting discussion with our PI insurers about the hosting section of our cover - they're adding all sorts of exclusions and wanted full written details of the actions we'll take if [insert wide selection of issues here] happens. They certainly seem to be feeling that forums, message boards etc are a liability to host whatever your contractual terms and they're takng the view that if anyone posts a message on a forum hosted by us and someone complains we must have a mechanism in place to immediately a) apologise b) remove content c) tell nasty website owner off before investigating the validity of the complaint.

That's Right, but

In these days of publishers not knowing what they are publishing, it is entirely appropriate that content is removed pending investigation. However, at all stages, both sides need to be clear that it will be reinstated if found not guilty.

There may come a time that nuisance complaints force a review of that - but as most complaints procedures require email, an oath faxed on penalty of perjury as well as affirmation of the facts, most complaints turn out to be genuine (be they porn, copyright, libel or whatever).

In this case, Y! only need fear if they had not taken taken 'reasonable measures', such as the best filters available, etc. Frankly, I suspect they are reviewing such filters with some urgency, and I also suspect heads will roll.

Being outsmarted by child p-rn merchants is something to take very seriously indeed.

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