Failure to Act is Negligence

Here’s an interesting thought.

If you are alerted to investigate and cease activities, either you, or someone who pays you to service them, and you don’t do anything to stop them from further activities, are you liable, for assisting the person to do those activities?

As a service provider, they generally have the responibility to provide a service to their customers. I’m talking in the context of the internet here though, and what I’m saying is that if a ISP has a customer, and that customer performs illegal acts, and the ISP has prior knowledge of the customer (or a user of the customer’s service) committing those illegal acts, should the ISP be liable?

The issue is pretty much raising two issues in my mind, one of which is the issue concerning civil issues. Copyright breach happens a lot on connections, as is demonstrated by the RIAA or MPAA both fighting like crazy, yet also being hypocritical, by stealing someone elses web software. Now, should the ISP be responsible that Joe Blow downloaded something that was copyrighted and decided they’d distribute it? Should an ISP stop this?

And of course, the other aspect, the Criminal Negligence aspect. If a customer commits criminal acts, like stealing, criminal damage, unauthorised access to a computer system, and the ISP is alerted to this, should the ISP stop that? Should the ISP stop if the customer is spamming customers, or “disturbing the peace”?

I think they should at the very least investigate, and after a preliminary investigation, make notes, and of course monitor the situation, and if the proof is in the pudding that the acts have been committed by that connection, I do think the ISP should plug it, and failing to act in what could be considered a “reasonable timeframe”, could constitute negligence.

I’m sure the RIAA or MPAA would also take that road with ISPs, should a customer be uploading copyright material, as such, I think the more harsher crime of theft, criminal damages, spam, and so forth should definitely be classed as negligence. We can’t have one standard for the evil scum over at the RIAA or MPAA, and another standard for the ISPs who provide the services. If an action CONTINUES after they are made aware of it, and haven’t taken adequate measures to ensure the actions don’t happen again, the ISP in question should immediately be seen as negligent in providing the service to the other half of the party, ie, the attacked party. They set up abuse@ email addresses for a reason, so it only makes sense they also investigate and follow up complaints made by such measures and take adequate procedures to ensure activities like that don’t CONTINUE (ie. cease and desist).

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One Response to Failure to Act is Negligence

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