AG Brown asked to investigate campus gossip site

By Chris Rizo | Apr 9, 2008

Jerry Brown

SACRAMENTO-California Attorney General Jerry Brown has been asked to investigate a college Internet gossip portal that allows classmates to anonymously attack other students for such things as their physical characteristics, race and sexual orientation.

State Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, has called on Brown to investigate JuicyCampus.com, which allows students to write anonymous messages, often salacious, about whomever they wish.

As of Wednesday, the attorney general's office had not responded to the assemblyman's letter, Torrico spokesman Jeff Barbosa told LNL Wednesday.

The Internet forum, which began in August, says it has a "simple mission of enabling online anonymous free speech on college campuses." The site boasts that its content is "always anonymous and always juicy."

In a company email, JuicyCampus.com says, "Pursuant to Title 47 USC Section 230, JuicyCampus is immune from liability arising from content posted by users."

Torrico said he wants the attorney general's office to probe whether the Web site's operator -Lime Blue, L.L.C. of Reno, Nev. - can in fact be held responsible for malicious postings.

"The site openly touts that it is not possible for anyone to use the website to find out who you are or where you are located. It further states that the company does not track any information that can be used to identify individuals who post gossip on the site," he said.

In a letter to Brown, Torrico said he is hoping the attorney general "will aggressively investigate these businesses for possible violations of state civil rights and consumer protection laws in the process of publishing and promoting these egregious and outrageous Web sites."

Already, the New Jersey attorney general's office has taken an interest in the Web site that covers about 50 college and university campuses around the country.

New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram and the state Division of Consumer Affairs subpoenaed JuicyCampus.com. Officials are trying to determine whether the portal violates the state Consumer Fraud Act "through unconscionable commercial practices and misrepresentations to users" of the site.

"Misrepresentation to the public by businesses violates our Consumer Fraud Act," Milgram said in a March 18 statement. "JuicyCampus.com must honor the terms and conditions that it informs the public it will adhere to."

In Connecticut, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is investigating the company's policies on abusive postings.

"Allowing anonymous postings without effective anti-abuse mechanisms invites inflammatory and hateful comments," he said last month in a statement. "This site has a moral -- if not legal -- responsibility to enforce its rules, and my office will compel its owners to do so if necessary."

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