Ian Puddick Accused of Twitter Harassment In Landmark Trial
The law and this newfangled thing called the Internet are always crashing into one another and subsequently creating new and exciting cases.
Exactly what you can and can't do online isn't always clear, and with no concrete boundaries it's cases like one going on in London right now that could be "viewed as a potential hearing defining the limits of the internet," according to The Telegraph.
Ian Puddick, 41, is accused of harassment for using a variety of social networks and creating a series of websites against Timothy Haynes, the man who was allegedly having a long-time affair with Puddick's wife.
The Telegraph reports that Puddick published explicit texts messages between his wife and Haynes, posting them on LinkedIn for Haynes's co-workers, clients, and friends to see.
During his two-year campaign against Haynes, Puddick allegedly even went so far as to set up a website called "Banksyuncovered" that was designed to fool people into believing they'd learn the true identity of graffiti artist Banksy, reports The Daily Mail.
Haynes claimed the fallout from the publicity surrounding the affair forced him to leave his job at Guy Carpenter, one of the world's largest financial corporations.
According to the BBC, Haynes made his first complaint to authorities after receiving text messages and phone calls but decided to drop the charges. In 2010, following the creation of the websites and seeing details of the affair shared on Twitter, he filed harassment charges again.
In court, Puddick's attorney tried to make it seem as though Haynes had no reason to complain about the websites, suggesting he got what he deserved:
"What is it about the website that you are moaning about? You suffered the same degree of harassment that a burglar does when he is caught by the police."
Of course this is far from the first legal case that involves social networking. In March, rockstar Courtney Love paid $430,000 to settle a lawsuit brought against her by a fashion designer who claimed she was defamed in a barrage of messages on Twitter. And just last month Love was sued again, this time by her former lawyers, for comments she made on Twitter.
Lets not forget Denise New, the Arkansas woman who was convicted of harassment for hijacking her 17-year-old son's Facebook page.
As social networking becomes more pervasive in our lives, we can expect more of these cases heard in courtrooms, but the trial against Puddick continues today and the outcome could be precedent setting.