"FYI: Faking court orders to take down Google reviews is super illegal"
Unless it's a baseless DMCA.
A New York business owner will be spending the next nine months behind bars after he was convicted of forging court orders to take down unflattering online reviews. Michael Arnstein, who at the time was running a gemstone and jewelry company in Manhattan, was sentenced today after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy …
Federal sentences of less than 12 months result in the prisoner serving 100% of the time (although any pre-trial detention time counts towards the total. This is per the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984.
For sentences of more than 12 months, "85%" of the sentence must be served, but after that the prisoner can be paroled if their behavior was good. The average is length of stay is, apparently, 88% of the sentence.This is largely because the federal Bureau of Prisons ignores the plain text of the statute -- 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b) -- and uses random percentages instead of the 54-days-per-year in the text. This callous disregard by the BOP was challenged, and upheld, by the Supreme Court, so instead of 54-days-per-year, the actual credit for good behavior is 47 days. (OK, so the rationale is not wholly insane, but the dissent in the case - https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/09-5201.pdf -- is a lot more rationale for people who can both read *and* count!)
So a judge sentencing someone to "a year and a day" may actually be doing the defendant a favor, as a 366 day sentence works out at 319 days in prison, while a 365 day sentence requires 365 days in chokey!
"So a judge sentencing someone to "a year and a day" may actually be doing the defendant a favor, as a 366 day sentence works out at 319 days in prison, while a 365 day sentence requires 365 days in chokey!"
And that's what happens when lawyers are not required to be numerate.
For sentences of more than 12 months, "85%" of the sentence must be served, but after that the prisoner can be paroled if their behavior was good.
Is it really parole? Where the released prisoner is still under court supervision and subject to re-incarceration if certain behavior restrictions are violated?
Or is it just a sentence reduction? Where the sentence is completely served, and the released prisoner is not under court supervision?
Everything I've read refers to it as a sentence reduction.
Remember, anyone searching on his name will find this story from now into eternity.
Not so fast, Einstein. He's going to get Google to take down search result(s) about him and jail time. Not sure if he's going to do it legally or not.
while I agree, in principle, how many people (percentagewise) check the seller? They feel savvy when they check amazon rating, unaware they're mostly fake...
And please remember, the Register readers are a TINY minority of those, who generally question reality, and only some of us, (oh, the Superhumans), go down the "trust, but verify" path...
Some of the most obvious fake reviews seem to be if the reviewer is a 'top 500' or such like reviewer.
See a small amount of reviews with a number of these reviewers being in there and the review is usually based on free goods 'not in any way in return for a favourable' review.
These top x reviewers on Amazon actually make me think fake straight away rather than the intended reaction, I guess.
"Would YOU purchase anything of value from him?"
The trying to scam Google wouldn't phase me.
The negative reviews might not phase me, that would depend on how many vs how many positive reviews, and what caused them to be negative eg the reviewer was an idiot who was in the wrong and couldn't get their way, or a yelper trying to get more than their fair share (see South Park). How a store handles negative reviews can tell you a lot about their character.
The trying to hide negative reviews - that's a totally different story with me. If I catch you hiding one I know you have the will to do it, and now I can't know how often you've done it before.
Val noted, "...which is $30 Million..."
Our hero wrote, "...b/c I spent $30,000 f**kin thousand dollars..."
Perhaps his "court order" was written to the same standard as his other prose, making it rather obvious to anyone reading it that it probably didn't originate from someone with an education.
gave him 6 months
Nine months, according to the article. And as has been pointed out, he'll have to serve them all. Though, frankly, even two months in a prison seem pretty unpleasant to me - probably unpleasant enough to discourage most people from doing something as stupid as continuing to forge court orders just to silence some critics.
After all that's what everyone else does and it's completely legal.
Yep, any modern internet savvy individual knows, best way to deal with bad press is to bury it in made up (just maybe best not to use fake judge references).
...Worked for the FCC in it's net neutrality consultation...
"best way to deal with bad press is to bury it in made up "
"The Big Lie" pinciple. It's what outfits like Reputation.com reply on to "sanitise" your internet records (which brings up the point that when looking someone up, it's worthwhile going to at least page 2 or 3 of the results to see if there's a marked change in what's being said)
It has been very easy, for over 20 years, to electronically sign documents. How long do we have to wait for courts to implement this?
Every judge should have a signing key and so should every court. Every document produced by the judge should be signed with both keys. All other documents involved in a case should be signed by the court (and probably also the submitting lawyer). It should be trivially easy for someone to check the electronic signature is valid (a website to do it for individuals and small companies; large companies could build it into their own systems).
I know it involves changes to court systems, but why wasn't the work started over 10 years ago and completed 5 years ago?
How long? Well, consider that I personally know many lawyers (and a couple sitting judges) that call email a "twix". Also consider that a couple of the above still have (and USE!) TELEX machines ... and I don't think I've ever stepped into a law office that didn't have a standing order for bulk FAX paper. So I'd say maybe around the turn of the next century. Note the "maybe".
I am not sure if this is still true, but for a long time (at least I was lead to believe this), fax was considered a legally-admissible format for a document but other electronic means such as email were not due to the possibility (however small) of being compromised in-flight.
"fax was considered a legally-admissible format for a document"
Supposedly on "interception" grounds.
However when faxes start going to wrong numbers, things can get "interesting".
If you think the scam of emailing to a target to change the bank account number they're paying their builder on is new, then you haven't been around long (It goes back at least as long as the Spanish Prisoner scam). The first 419 scam I ever saw was hammered out one character at a time in ALL CAPS on a telex in the early 1980s and we'd already seen fax fraud by then.
If you think the scam of emailing to a target to change the bank account number they're paying their builder on is new, then you haven't been around long
Yes. What electronic communication has done is lower the unit cost of sending malicious messages, and the cost of discovering potential recipients.
Of course this fits a broader trend of decreasing cost of communication, benign or otherwise, that goes back centuries. Eisenstein's The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe is a good, if dry, survey of the process in Europe for the early modern era (as you may have guessed), and Yates's Control Through Communication is an engaging look at it in the US from 1850 to 1920, when many key innovations happened.
fax was considered a legally-admissible format for a document but other electronic means such as email were not due to the possibility (however small) of being compromised in-flight
IANAL, certainly, but in the US the 1997 UETA (adopted by 47 states and DC) applies to "business, commercial ... and governmental matters", and the 2000 ESIGN Act establishes the validity of electronic signatures for interstate commerce, including things like contracts.
I have in recent years electronically signed numerous legally-binding documents, such as real-estate contracts. No faxing was involved.
There is a good reason that lawyers still use Telex. Telex machines have an identification code, known as an answerback, programmed into them that is exchanged with the far end at both the beginning of a message and at the message's end as a sign-off. The sender of a telex message can reasonably assume that if the exchange of answerbacks successfully completes at the end of the message, then the message has been successfully received by the recipient. There is a fair amount of legal precedent in the law of England & Wales, and the USA, dealing with this and related issues. As a result of the legal precedents, telex documents have certain legal advantages over faxes and emails. In common parlance, telex messages are 'legal documents' in a way that faxes and emails are not.
Obviously, organisations can use emails and public key cryptography to authenticate messages and demonstrate delivery and acceptance, but AFAIK the international legal framework around such practices is still being constructed. For example, here is El Reg reporting on the service of a writ by email: The Register: High Court approves service of a lawsuit by email in 2006.
Telex???? It must mean something else where you're from.
In the USofA, it was an antiquated 5-level teleprinter service, last offered, I think, by Western Union (who is now solely a money moving company, I believe)
Funny thing it, the Telex system *did* have answerback. I used to repair 8-level teleprinters and that super-secure answerback you refer to is merely a string of characters, spit out from a primitive PROM (a rotating drum with 5 or 8 levels of tabs; break off the tab for a "1", leave it on for a "0") in response to receipt of a "WRU" character. NOT hard to spoof.
In college, I had a KSR-33 in my dorm room, the answerback drum was coded with my "username, CR. password, CR", so to log on, all I had to do was hit the HERE IS key.
Now, getting yourself ON a Telex network (if they still exist) might be well-nigh impossible. But, once you're on, you could spoof to your heart's content with a microprocessor and a UART (if you can find one that still does 5-level characters)
CR CR LF LF LTRS LTRS
Not telex-proper (subscriber telex lines are no longer available in the United States). Rather I typed "telex machines" ... look up telex over IP for more. Last time I checked, iTelegram still offered the service.
Radiotelex is still a thing.
I know it involves changes to court systems, but why wasn't the work started over 10 years ago and completed 5 years ago?
In the US presumably it's complicated by the number of different state systems plus whatever the Feds use?
In the UK the answer is a lot easier: Because the Ministry of Justice & Home Office couldn't find their own arse without assistance, and every IT related project they touch turns to (expensive) ash.
But why bother with (a separate system for) electronic signatures in this case? The court orders are nearly always public, so just put them on the court's web site with a static URL that people can send to Google (or anyone else) instead of sending them scanned documents.
Same argument applies to other situations in which the document to be authenticated is public and the recipient can be expected to have an Internet connection.
I presume the court orders would be marked as not to be indexed by search engines. And if any search engine did index them, the Court could apply to itself for an order to...
Lets say I'm looking at reviews for something. I search for that something with review then search for that something on the review site.
How is removing the reviews from google going to help anyway? The moment you click through to any review you see them all anyway.
I also take review sites with a huge pinch of salt and like Wikipedia I research a lot before forming an opinion or judgement.
To be fair, it's not clear from the article if, like the court orders, the reviews themselves were fake. Slagging off your competitors, as well as planting fake positive reviews of your own business, is now standard practice in the raw sewage that is the Internet.
> I've noticed that some Amazon reviews are now annotated with a Verified Purchase tag,
Which they've had for about a decade.
> which offer me slightly more confidence in them.
The simple way of ditching bad reviews from genuine purchasers is to change the product code or phoenix the company in extreme cases. Lampalous being one example which got away with this for quite a while.
Plus you can game "genuine purchaser" tags with about 2 minutes thought.
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