‘HIV Prostitute’ Blog Hoax Zooms on Cyber-Privacy

Earlier this month, a BBS post purportedly written by a prostitute grabbed the attention of web surfers and news outlets. In addition to revealing an HIV infection, the post also included hundreds of supposed clients’ telephone numbers.

Later, however, it was revealed that the post was not written by prostitute Yan Deli, but a disgruntled ex-boyfriend with the surname Yang. Yan tested negative for HIV. But the hoax raises questions about personal privacy on the Internet. From China Daily:

A blog that falsely proclaimed that a Hebei province woman is HIV positive was a hoax by an ex-boyfriend intent upon revenge – and a case study into the debate about people’s right of privacy in cyberspace.

The woman, Yan Deli, a native in Hebei province, tested negative for HIV/AIDS Monday by the local disease control center.

[...] The hoax has caused worries about the violation of privacy in the virtual world, and raised questions about how much the blogger and the websites should be held responsible.

Yu Guofu, a lawyer with Beijing Sam & Partners Law Firm, said the blogger will face legal consequences, because the violators of laws in the virtual world – an extension of the real world – should be punished as well.

But the difference, Yu said, is how quickly illegal content can be spread on the Internet, and how difficult it is to collect proof of a crime on the Internet.

Read also a blog post by Chang Ping on the subject of privacy and defamation on the Internet [CN].

October 26, 2009 10:32 PM
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Categories: Law, Society