Figures tell: hacker Tron more popular than ever after restraining order against Wikipedia.de

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In my first post on the Wikipedia.de controversy (concerning the late German hacker “Tron”) I predicted that as a result of the legal action taken by Tron’s family against Wikipedia, many more people would learn about the real name of Tron than would have otherwise.

From that day on, my colleagues at the FIR, James Thurman and Daniel Haeusermann, have performed Google searches using the phrases (1) (Tron “[real name]”) and (2) (Tron “[real name]” Wikipedia). They discovered that within five days after Wikipedia.de was shut down by the German court, the overall number of hits to search (1) went up from 428 to 928. In the same time, the number of hits to search (2) increased from 178 to 792.

Hence, Tron and his real name have gained substantial exposure, not only in terms of people who now know his real name, but also in terms of mentions on the World Wide Web. Our little experiment suggests a) that it might be counterproductive to enforce the right to privacy on the Web by legal means and b) that there is no (legal) remedy available that could prevent such a thing from happening – this is of course due to the decentralized, multijurisdictional character of the Web.

2 Comments »

  1. Information Law Possum » Blog Archive » AOL case illustrates challenges to information law

    August 14, 2006 @ 12:26 am

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    […] The Crimson Ninja Girl passionately argues that information laundering is ethically objectionable, and I cannot but agree with her. Yet, prohibiting this is not the best idea: First, legal action against the publication of information online, e.g. by seeking an injunction against a content provider, has proven to be counterproductive, as the story of the late German hacker Tron teaches us. Second, I feel in a very general – and probably irrational – way uncomfortable with the law meddling with communication by and amongst individuals. […]

  2. Information Law Possum » Blog Archive » Immediate Chilling Effect of the Bus Copy Libel Lawsuit

    January 10, 2007 @ 3:44 am

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    […] Zonda’s legal department might want to read Urs Gasser’s post on the effects of the Tron lawsuit. […]

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