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This ability to source information from disparate resources, add then together an adversely influence corporate reputation is a potential hazard in many ways. In particular in the case of Cyber Stalking. There are cases where cyber stalkers have created sites about employees.

Since February 1997, Bill Sheering has operated a Web site which contains four general types of content: (1) Sheehan's grievances against government officials and private parties, most of them credit reporting agencies and debt collection services; (2) Strongly worded expressions of opinion (e.g., referring to a corporation as "criminally insane," etc); (3) allegations about corporations and persons which were claimed to be defamatory; (4) Information about employees of companies.

After Sheehan filed his lawsuit, he added to the Web site information regarding defendants' outside counsel.
The information about employees includes home addresses; street maps identifying the locations of the addresses; home telephone numbers; fax numbers; social security numbers; photographs of automobiles and their license plates which appear to have been taken in public; and photographs of people which appear to have been taken in public. Sheehan declares that he obtained this information lawfully, from such public information sources as the Washington Secretary of State and other Internet sites.

Sheehan's Web site contains no explicit encouragement for readers to engage in any specific conduct, or to use the information about employees or attorneys in any specific way. Other than the actions of Sheehan himself, the record contains no evidence that any other person has ever contacted any employee or any individual identified in Sheehan's Web site, as a result of viewing the site. (a map taken from Sheehan's site)
Never-the-less, there are details, shown on the Web site and presented in court about a number of employees of a number of companies.

The protection of employees, and in particular employees whose reputation is valuable to the company is a matter of reputation management. The legal case is difficult to follow round the world and so protection is the first line of defence.

There's no question that cults, conspiracy groups, and the lunatic fringe have found homes on the Internet. Nor should this surprise us. The Internet is, if nothing else, an effective medium. Of course fringe groups are going to take advantage of this
technology. How could they not? The key for reputation management is to be aware of the problems and to ensure that all employees are aware and alert to these issues.

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Article Series

This article is part 8 of a 12 part series. Other articles in this series are shown below:
  1. Interactivity
  2. Brand Performance
  3. Online PR
  4. Sponsorship Marketing
  5. Brand Attacks
  6. Cyber Counterfit Sales
  7. Internal Communications
  8. Cyberstalkers
  9. Protection from Cyberstalkers
  10. Investor Relations
  11. Share Scams
  12. Protecting Investors
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