Editorial: Throw a net on it

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While there’s pretty much universal agreement that the Internet is a wonderful thing, there is still much to be done in terms of policing this untamed creature.
Issues surrounding libel, privacy, and accuracy have long been addressed in print but clearly have a way to go with respect to content sprouting on the world’s computers. And then, there’s what has happened to ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews.

Andrews was violated pure and simple . . . and that actually might be putting it mildly.
While alone in her hotel room, she was secretly spied upon by a creepy peeping Tom who drilled holes into the wall, and trained his camcorder’s hungry lens on her as she went about her private business - naked. It should give one shivers to contemplate.

Then, this piece of garbage posted his vile video prize on the Internet. The blurry, five minutes show the poor woman standing before a mirror (though I won’t watch it for confirmation).

Andrews’ lawyer, Marshall Grossman, confirmed, “While alone in the privacy of her hotel room, Erin Andrews was surreptitiously videotaped without her knowledge or consent. She was the victim of a crime and is taking action to protect herself and help ensure that others are not similarly violated in the future.”

Good for her: find this loser and make sure he’s dealt with criminally. In fact, her lawyer said she’s seeking criminal charges and will file civil lawsuits against the perpetrator.

“Erin has been grievously wronged here,” said ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz. “Our people and resources are in full support of her as she deals with this abhorrent act.”

But Andrews is just the current poster girl for what could happen to any one of us. It is possible these days to go to a beach, be surreptitiously videotaped and violà, it’s on the Internet before you know it. The fact that one is topless on a beach set aside for that type of sunbathing is one thing; being exposed to the world as such is quite another.

Or, while doing anything that could be misconstrued out of context being filmed without our knowledge, posted for say employers to peruse, and unlike with social networking sites when the damage is self-inflicted, appear completely out of the blue like an assault.

There is still a Wild West mentality on the web. To wit blog rumorsandrants.com wrote: “While they are completely creepy in every way . . . she looks incredible. She looks better than any of us could have ever hoped.” Gee, that’s like saying it was a good thing for the gunslinger to throw Miss Kitty over his shoulder.

But would that be said about Miss Andrews if this peeping Tom had been caught red-handed, crouched and leering through the hole and stuff like videos and the Internet were not involved? Nope.

For some bizarre reason, when it’s on the ‘net there’s a lowering of barriers. This action is a criminal offence pure and simple and just because it happened on the Internet should not be taken lightly and available for strangers to ogle at the end of the fingertips.

There is a huge opportunity out there for lawyers to get involved in clipping a leash on this beast on a
variety of levels.
- Gretchen Drummie

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