If you get robbed after posting your whereabouts online, blame your own stupidity and hope your looter is caught, because you will not get very far by suing pleaserobme.com.Asked whether the site could be liable for any actual losses, Eric Menhart, a cyberlaw attorney at the boutique Washington D.C. firm CyberLaw P.C. says, “The real answer here is no.”
The satirical site snatches tweets from users who have broadcasted their location using Foursquare only republishes already public information.
Kashmir Hill, of True/Slant and Above the Law (who pointed out the site is lawsuit-bait), wondered whether the fact that the duo behind the site is apparently based in Netherlands could offer any additional legal protection. According to Menhart, that fact wouldn’t hamper potential litigants. Using the effects test established by Calder v. Jones, a U.S. citizen could potentially sue the pair behind the site, since the impact of their publication can be felt in other jurisdictions (not that such a suit would get very far, of course).
But the site does highlight the oft-ignored implications of chronicling your life on the internet. “It’s worth bearing in mind for people who are self-publishing updates about themselves,” says Menhart, “Even if you have certain privacy protections, you can’t be sure that it’s private.”
And while the site may not lead to a successful lawsuit, that does not mean there will not be any. The moment someone finds out they were robbed by someone who liked to spend time on the Web site, a lawyer somewhere will be pulling out his pen.
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