Defamation of Character and Libel on

Cross Border Issues Regarding Social Networking Defamation

Different jurisdictions apply different rules to what is regarded as defamation as well as to what is regarded as the liability of the parties involved. Because of the cross- border nature of the internet, it is important to at least identify the minimum common denominators which apply among various western jurisdictions, in order to deal with online defamation.

Generally speaking, there is almost a universal defence to defamation and this is the defence of truthfulness, which would provide a party, accused of delivering defamatory remarks, with a blanket defence against any such allegations of defamation. Whenever the comments or material posted contain factual information, it is relatively easy to ascertain the facts and decide whether or not they are truthful. If for instance a purchaser of a DVD player online claims that the newly purchased DVD broke down after 2 weeks and that the vendor refused to provide refund – this would be a factual issue.

Opinion And Defamation of Character

The problem normally starts where people post comments, which contain their opinion about the vendor or the goods purchased. For example, if the purchaser of a DVD player in the above example states in a forum comment that the vendor is a fraud or a bogus business, then the person posting the comment may well land himself in a more risky area of posting defamatory comments. To avoid getting in trouble for defamation, it is therefore best to stick with the facts and avoid providing own interpretation for the reasons behind the negative experience.

The most risky comments are those which imply dishonesty or the breaking of the law by the vendor, where this has not been proved in a court of law.

The 2 Most Common Types Of Online Defamation Of Character

The 2 most common types of complaints about online defamation are in regard to those comments which are made by individual purchasers of goods or services and those comments made anonymously by competitors. The comments made by one company against another tend to be more capable of being defamatory because there is almost always an element of malice attached to them, as opposed to being a fair comment.

In relation to defamatory comments made by individuals against other individuals, those tend to be very harmful because of the gossipy nature of those comments. The public regards gossip as an acceptable form of freedom of speech, which means that those who make these defamatory comments don’t necessarily see them as being capable as attracting a claim for defamation. This of course is wrong because defamatory comments, whether made by individuals against other individuals, or whether made by individuals against corporations have the same effect of being lies, which could spread very rapidly across the internet as well as off line and cause serious injury to their subject. The culpability of individuals and corporations therefore is the same and in both cases by spreading lies online they create a potential legal action for defamation.

Who Can Be Held Liable To Libellous Remarks Which Are Posted On Forums And Social Networking

Social networking sites are becoming a safe haven for those who wish to harm others by posting lies or gossip. It is the newest form of bullying and harassment, where the bullies find it convenient to hide behind the obscurity which social networking provides. The nature of what constitutes ‘defamation’ has largely remained unchanged for generations. What is not clear is to what extent those who permit such publications should be held liable. A person who posts lies about another individual whether by using social networking or by more traditional means such as newspaper articles, carries the same liability as they did in the past. But if traditionally newspaper publishers were to be held liable for postings made by readers in their publications, it is not clear now whether or not hosts of social networking sites and blogs carry the same level of culpability in relation to online defamation. There is therefore a grey area here but it is not in relation to what is regarded as defamation or the liability of the person who posts the untrue comments. The grey area is rather in relation to how far down the chain do people and organisations who run the social networking and blogs remain liable to what is being published on websites which are under their control.

Freedom Of Speech And Online Defamation

Thoughts are only capable of being defamatory once they are published. It is almost universally accepted that freedom of speech is not an absolute right and restrictions are being imposed on freedom of speech, whenever a state feels for example that its national security could be compromised. Almost every state in the western world has got in place emergency measures, which very often include at least some sort of restriction on freedom of speech. By definition, laws of defamation have also got an element of restriction on freedom of speech. It remains to be seen whether those restrictions on freedom of speech should or would be further restricted in the future. In the long term, I foresee a shift in the way of thinking in terms of how we perceive and understand freedom of speech should operate. I believe that it will not be long before legislators in various states will come to realise, perhaps due to being personal affected by the issue, that freedom of speech should be restrained in some way in order to protect not only the economic interests of corporations, but also the well- being and quality of life of individuals who would find it almost intolerable to live in a society where everyone in effect, is a fair target to publications of defamatory comments. This however, might not happen immediately and mainly for political reasons, things will probably get worse before any serious changes to rules governing freedom of speech are to take place.

What Is The Law On Defamation of Character And How Can Defamation Be Proved?

The purpose of laws surrounding defamation of character is to protect an individual’s reputation. This is bound to be a controversial area from the outset, where issues of Human Rights in relation to another individual’s freedom of speech, (namely Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights) can be raised.

As is the case with most areas of law, the delicate balance, which must be achieved between a person’s reputation on the one hand and another’s right to speak their mind on the other, is no enviable task for judges of our day.

For a defamation claim to succeed in England, three elements first need to be made out:

– The words are defamatory.

– The words refer to the Claimant.

– The words have been published.

We shall now look at each of these in further depth.

The words are defamatory

Whilst there is no concrete definition in law, factors which are considered include deciding if the material lowers the reputation of the Claimant in right thinking members of society, does the defamatory statement causes the Claimant to be shunned or avoided, or exposes the claimant to hatred, ridicule or contempt?

All relevant factors must be considered in this assessment. The word’s ordinary meanings should be considered but also whether or not there are any hidden meanings within the material’s full and rightful context.

The words refer to the Claimant

If the material contains the Claimant’s full name or picture, this element clearly won’t be in dispute. However, often it is the case that nicknames or innuendo’s are used. The courts have decided the general test for whether the material can satisfactorily be made out to refer to the Claimant is whether a ‘reasonable reader’ – i.e. an average member of society – would make the connection to them.

The words have been published

The legal definition of defamation is the publishing of untrue material that would lower another’s reputation in the eyes of a right thinking member of society. The word ‘publishing’ immediately brings connotations of something written down. However, as every defamation lawyer will tell you, this does not have to be so for a claim to succeed. ‘Published’ in this context simply means being transmitted to a third party. The definition of slander, for example, is defamation in a transient form and does not have to have a written element at all. Words will suffice. Similarly, for a claim of libel to succeed, the defamation must be permanent but would still qualify if the defamation took place over the radio or in a theatre, and not in written form.

This being said, the vast majority of defamation claims are a form of libel that is written down, published either on the internet, in a magazine or in the papers. It should be noted that the easier the claim to bring about (i.e. through bringing an action of slander), the higher the burden of proof as the claimant must show that actual (tangible) damage has taken place. This makes sense in order to prevent the court being inundated with an unmanageable volume of claims. Where the words are written down in what constitutes libel, this is no so. The words alone are enough and the claimant does not have to prove any subsequent loss from the defamatory material.

Five Steps to Avoid Online Defamation

As recently as 20 years ago, members of the press were pretty much the only people who had to worry about issues like defamation and libel. But with the explosion of social media in recent years, virtually anyone can have a platform and a mass audience with whom to share ideas. And that means virtually anyone can find themselves, unwittingly or otherwise, liable for defamation. It also means that topics reserved for mass communications and law students are now relevant for the public at large.

If you tweet, blog, tag or post, here are five steps to keep you out of defamation danger:

1) Know what constitutes defamation.

Just as its name suggests, defamation is when you defame another person through harmful statements about another person that you know or should know are false. Slander, when such statements are spoken, and libel, when they are written, are forms of defamation.

For example, tweeting that your boss is a sexual harassment nightmare when no such claims have been verified would be considered libelous. But tweeting that you just won a judgment against your boss for sexual harassment, if true, is safe.

2) Stick to facts; avoid opinions that could be construed as facts.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but it’s critical to distinguish the difference between opinion and fact. If you believe a politician lied about his or her campaign finances, for example, but it’s not been proven, it’s best to precede any verbal or written statements about that belief with the words “in my opinion.” It’s better yet to keep potentially defamatory thoughts to yourself.

3) No name-calling.

Even if you think the latest celebrity mistress is a home wrecker, name-calling can constitute character assassination. He or she may believe their paramour truly was separated at the time of the affair, in which case the home was already wrecked and your statement is false.

4) Let readers reach their own conclusions.

It’s likely that when faced with the facts, the same facts you encountered, many of your Facebook followers will view situations much the same way you do–without you exposing yourself to defamation claims.

5) Don’t retweet or link to someone else’s potential defamatory material.

Someone else may originate a rumor, but that doesn’t stop it from being untrue. Regardless of where a defamatory statement originated, anyone who repeats it is just as liable as the initial source.

Common Legal Penalties For Computer Crimes

Computer technology is becoming increasingly more advanced and there is a lot of money to be made surrounding it. Where there is more money to be made, there is more criminal activity, punishable by law. The Information Act of 2000 states that there should be different penalties for different types of technological crimes. The following are common legal penalties for computer crimes.

Telecommunication service theft involves the unlawful obtainment of any telecommunications technology. This crime is punishable with a heavy fine and an undefined term of imprisonment. The legal consequences vary depending on the severity of the theft. Communications intercept crime is a Class-D crime that involves the interruption of communication technology. It is punishable by one to five years in prison along with a fine and can include other infractions such as offensive material dissemination, telecommunication piracy, and other cyber frauds.

When someone changes a source code on a computer program or website, this is called computer source tampering. Those found guilty of this crime can face up to three years in prison, or a fine. Computer hacking also carries a prison sentence of up to three years.

Though all technological crimes are taken seriously, government computer systems hold the most serious consequence when violated. Trying to obtain access to a system protected by the government is a very serious crime that can have major consequences on government operations. Anyone found guilty of tampering with a government computer faces ten years in prison and a major fine.

Protecting computer technology crimes is extremely important because the world now relies heavily on the use of computer systems to operate. With one of the most common legal penalties for computer crimes being a prison sentence, the legal system has been very effective in putting new laws in place with the changing technology. Technology crimes are taken very seriously and punished harshly.

Being a Cyber Stalking Target Can Strike Fear in Even the Strongest People

While it may be true that many individuals do not scare very easily, there are instances when even these people become frightened when they are faced with the problem of cyber stalking. This occurrence is an issue that can affect many people in very different ways depending on the severity of the situation and the specific circumstances involved. Being the victim of a cyber stalker can be terrifying and many people are simply not equipped to deal with this kind of terror, largely because they do not know what to do to identify the guilty party, or stop the undeserved threats from coming.

Internet investigators can perform a variety of investigations to find the source of these threatening emails, as well as the identity of the person sending them. The type of investigation that is most commonly used is a reverse email look-up. This process can obtain such information as the name, address and phone number of the person thought to be cyber stalking innocent victims, as well as their place of employment, their internet service provider and browser type, what websites they visit and how often, the location of the computer used, and the operating system of the computer. This information is highly valuable in identifying the individual that is sending threatening emails and give you the tools you need to put a stop to this type of harassment.

The best way to obtain this much needed information is to turn to a professional and experienced internet investigator to perform a reverse email look-up. These investigators are highly trained and have many tools available to get whatever information can be found in regards to individuals suspected of being stalked on the Internet. Once information is obtained there are numerous other steps that can be taken to stop this frightening type of communication.

The investigators who conduct cell phone forensic investigations have many years of experience and know exactly what to do to obtain this information safely, effectively and legally. This type of investigation often leads to the victims of cyber stalking feeling much safer and getting the information which is necessary not only to identify these individuals, but also to take the appropriate actions to put a stop to the threats and communication which is the source of the fear in which these people have been forced to endure. A reverse email trace may take anywhere from one day to two weeks and includes a detailed report on the information which is discovered during this process.

Cyber Law – Many of the Newest Cyber Laws Are to Protect Businesses

Two decades ago there wasn’t really any type of cyber law. Today, we can’t pick up a newspaper, without reading something about legal issues that involve the Internet, or the companies that do business there. The record and movie industry has been distraught over piracy, copyright infringement, and stolen intellectual property. And they have every right to be, but they aren’t taking it lying down.

In fact, we now see that many of the cyber laws on the books are there because the movie and record industry has sent their lobbyists to Washington DC to get laws passed to prevent this theft. Has it worked? Yes and no, the piracy still exists, and it is doubtful if it can all be stopped. The European Union has just come out with a new law to protect companies from individuals downloading without paying for movies, and songs.

Software companies are also being ripped off, and it’s not just in places like China where you might expect, a lot of stuff happens in the United States, and the Internet is worldwide, as we cross the digital divide. Sometimes people can’t afford songs or movies so they download from a website which has pirated the songs and movies, and then there are the people who build websites who distribute this material who find ways to get a hold of it, usually you legally themselves.

Recently there was a very interesting article on cyber law and one of the big problems in the Wall Street Journal. The article was titled “Warner Bros. Probes Online Leak of Potter” by Loren A.E. Schuker published on November 24, 2010.

It turns out that Warner Bros had their latest Harry Potter film stolen a full four days of head of its debut according to the article. Although the full movie was not available, the first 36 min. were, and the folks that love to play around with file-sharing were able to get it for free. Now then, I’d like to express my opinion on this topic – and then ask some questions, philosophically of course.

If the movie companies can’t get a return on their investment because their films and movies are stolen and given away for free, then they are less likely to spend big budgets on big movies in the future, because they will not be able to make a profit. Indeed, this creates a huge risk in the marketplace, and the reward is not there, if the work will only be stolen.

This is a detriment to not only the United States but also countries like Brazil and India who are also now making movies, along with China. How they protect their movie industries, as they will have the same problems as we do here. How much is at stake – hundreds of billions of dollars per year. That is well over the gross domestic product of at least 300 of the world’s nations – stolen in cyberspace.

Even though we have laws in the United States, the EU, and other countries it is doubtful that cyber law alone can stop this problem. It appears that cyber law is only keeping the honest people honest, and the criminals are moving around too fast to stop, even with the recent domain name repossessions by authorities. Please consider all this.

Domain Name Cease & Desist Letters – What Do They Look Like?

You may have received an email or a letter demanding that you turn over your domain name to the person who wrote the letter. You may be wondering what it is and how you can find out how to handle it. Although the letter or email may not contain the words “cease and desist letter” or “demand letter,” the common term used to describe this type of letter is “cease and desist letter.” The letters are also occasionally referred to as “domain name demand letters.”

An example of a domain name cease and desist letter is provided below so that you will be able to recognize whether your letter is a domain name cease and desist letter. A brief explanation is also included. In order to maintain the confidentiality of the sender and the recipient, the company on whose behalf the letter is being sent is referred to as “ABC Company” and the domain name owner is referred to as “Domain Name Registrant.”

[Printed on Stationery Letterhead of Law Firm]

Dear Registrant:

Our law firm represents ABC Company and its direct and indirect subsidiaries. ABC Company offers a wide range of products and services, including ______, ______ and _____ all under the ABC name and mark. ABC is the U.S. trademark registration of the term ABC. ABC Company has been using the ABC name and mark since at least as early as _________. You are presumed to have knowledge of ABC Company’s registered marks and reputation because your domain name incorporates the ABC mark in its entirety and is virtually identical to ABC’s web site address, www. See PNC Fin. Servo Group Inc. V. Unasi Inc., FA058000535925 (NAF Sept. 20, 2005).

It has recently come to the attention of ABC Company that you are the registrant of the domain name When this domain name is entered into an Internet browser, the user is redirected to a web page that contains a variety of links, the majority of which relate to the goods and services that ABC Company provides. Such uses are a violation of state and federal trademark and unfair competition laws,including, without limitation, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. ยง1125( d). Moreover, such uses and registration are in violation of federal and state trademark and unfair competition laws, and Public Domain Registry’s “Domain Registrant Agreement.” widespread recognition of ABC Company and ABC marks across the United States. These marks are an invaluable asset of ABC, and cannot and will not permit them to be weakened or destroyed as an identifier of its products.

On behalf of ABC Company, we hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist all uses of the domain name, transfer the registration to ABC Company, and cease and desist all uses of ABC (and any term confusingly similar to ABC). In addition, ABC demands that you certify that you controls no other registrations that include the term ABC (or any term confusingly similar to ABC).

ABC looks forward to your cooperation in resolving this matter quickly. Please contact the undersigned no later than noon Eastern Time, on [date] to provide notice that you agree to comply immediately with the demands set forth in this letter. Please note that if we cannot promptly resolve this matter on an amicable basis, we will advise ABC Company to take all required actions against you that it deems necessary to protect ABC’s rights. You can find additional information about the risks of domain name infringement at the website

We are confident that ABC Company would prevail against you in any legal action. This letter is without any waiver of or prejudice to ABC Company s rights, claims, remedies, or demands, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.

Sincerely, Signature of Attorney

The foregoing is an example of a domain name cease and desist letter that was sent by a large law firm in an attempt to obtain the domain of the registrant. If you have received a letter similar to this type letter, you now know that you have received a domain name cease and desist letter.

The allegation made in these types of domain name cease and desist letters may be a bluff or it may actually have some legal basis. Because there may be a substantial risk if you do not give up the domain, it is advisable that you consult with an attorney for a thorough evaluation of the situation.

Domain name cease and desist letters are being sent out with increasing frequency as the Internet grows and as the number of available domains diminishes. The letters are often unfounded attempts to intimidate the registrant. Other letters do, in fact, have a legal basis and can be the precursor of a sizable legal dispute. If you have received a domain name cease and desist letter of this nature, your response (and the consequences of your response) should be carefully considered. A domain name law firm domain name law firm that has had extensive experience with domain name cease and desist letters is

How to Protect My Online Reputation – An Easy Guide

The Reputation Shock

A 60 years old English entrepreneur who spent his entire working life building up his reputation as a serious, noticeable business man has woken up one morning to find himself staring at his computer screen with disbelief. A life-long customer referred him to the search results against his store chain as they appeared on the first page of the Google search engine. Page after page, result after result – website visitors were being discouraged from shopping at any of his stores. The chain’s customer services was described as appalling and the business practices as dishonest. 35 years of solid rock reputation have been tarnished literally over night. Lie after lie, allegation after allegation. 3,4,5 different websites all of which seemed to have been devoted to ruining him company and his reputation.

Scores of internet surfers appeared to have left their comments on each of the tarnishing websites. The stories were very damaging and were likely to catch the attention of the off line media with possibilities of articles appearing in national newspapers. This was the point where the veteran business man suddenly had woken up to the fact that the world has changed and that negative comments by whoever it might be could destroy life-time work almost overnight.

This very successful, somewhat old fashion business man used to be in control during his entire business life. Now it appears he wasn’t any longer. So he called his trusted lawyer for the past 25 years who admitted, this was a new territory for him too. “The normal legal tools” the solicitor said “might not work in this case”. “In fact the normal legal tools might actually exacerbate the situation further”, he lawyer added. “This is the unknown land” he told his client, “We need to tread carefully”.

Watch Your Back!

A client of my Internet law firm, a small international book publishing company had woken up one morning to discover that she had no reputation or business left. A competitor in what is already a tough market had been conducting a negative campaign about her company for a few months now with the aim of getting her out of business.

This case ended up in the High Court where despite what the Judge said, my client was left with a tarnished reputation which had in effect blocked any subsequent attempt by her to get back into the same line of business.

So What Does This Mean To You?

On average they say, 1 in 5 happy customers will put a good word about you to one friend or one relative, perhaps earning you business this way. 1 unhappy customer on the other hand will tell between 5-10 people about his bad experience which means that bad news travel much faster than good news. No matter how much effort you put into good PR with your clients and employees, one bad experience can ruin the whole lot. Can you do anything about this? Sure! This is what you need to do: As a starting point, follow these 3 steps. They will reduce the risk of online damage to your reputation.

They are general good business practices too so don’t delay and start implementing now. The 3 steps that you need to take are:





Learn to treasure complaints. You don’t need an internet lawyer to tell you how important it is for you to respond to complaints quickly and to avoid procrastination. Follow each complaint through with a view of satisfying your customer’s anger and frustrations. It is a fact of life that complaints stay in the family for a very short time and if not resolved promptly, there is a risk that any griavance could end up being exposed to the entire world. Don’t ever be defensive. If you are in the wrong, simply admit to it and make amends.

Initially, all that your unsatisfied customer desires, is for you to put things right. Later on your customer’s goals might change, and revenge could become their new desire. By this time, you might have lost control over the whole situation which leaves you valuable to online attacks on your reputation.


Read and hear what your customers are saying about you. Search the internet for your company’s name and brand using the normal Google search engine as well as Google Blog Search or any other free search tools that are available online. This will reveal to you many of the blogs and discussion groups where your company’s name has been mentioned. This is what your customers will see when they search for your company. Hopefully you will not find anything alarming and in such case you should continue monitoring these websites and discussion groups.

But if you do find unpleasant comments, this is still not the end of the world and there is plenty that you can do to repair the damage.


You can actually influence what your customers see when they search for your company online. Try to get involved in online discussions and post articles and comments online using various methods such as blogs, discussion groups websites and more. Whenever you find negative comments about your company, join the discussion by introducing yourself and try to put things right. Don’t simply stay away and hope that this will just disappear because it won’t. If you feel that the situation is getting slightly out of control, get expert advice on internet law. Internet lawyers provide constant monitoring of your reputation and offer can give you good practical advice on how to form a strategy to combat online attacks on your reputation and how to protect your online reputation through the courts of law.

There are other companies out there that provide tools which aim to remove unkind web pages from the first page of Google Search but using those companies must be your very last resort because they are not cheap and in some cases tend to require long term monitoring and management.

An internet law expert also can help you manage your online reputation by using verious legal tools which have proved time and time again to be extremely effective.

10 Essential iPad Apps for the Lawyer

The iPad promises to change the way lawyers practice the law. Here are 10 essential iPad apps that any lawyer should have.

  1. iWork for iPad – $30 or $10 for each of the three apps – includes a word processor (Pages), a spreadsheet application (Numbers), and a presentation application (Keynote). This suite of applications will enable you to create fairly sophisticated documents, although it’s probably a better for editing documents, rather than creating full-fledged contracts or agreements on the fly.
  2. Evernote – Free – A fantastic program that you can download for your computer, your iPhone/iTouch, and your iPad. This program allows you to save ideas, things you see on the web (on any of those devices), record notes, ideas, and voice memos, and to then share these things across platforms. So if you’re in court or in a meeting away from your computer, and you need to save a note, or a memo, it will synchronize with Evernote on your computer as well.
  3. Aji Annotator – $4.99 – Many legal documents come in PDF format. Aji Annotate lets you mark-up, annotate, and add notes to PDF documents, which you can then save and re-share with other people/lawyers.
  4. DocuSign – Varies – Until DocuSign comes up with a native application for its electronic signature service, you’ll have to have internet connectivity and the ability to reach the DocuSign website, which the company says is fully compatible with the new iPad.
  5. Air Sharing – Lite ($2.99) or Pro Version ($9.99) – Allows you to move files to your iPad (from your desktop) or to your iPhone or iTouch with ease. The early version for the iPad is getting reports of being buggy. The iPhone version which I’ve used works quite well.
  6. Instapaper – $4.99 – Works like a charm on the iPhone, and will be even better on the iPad. This app allows you to “bookmark” various webpages, which you then synch with your iPad. Allows for off-line browsing. Slightly duplicative of Evernote, although Instapaper does this one thing really well, whereas Evernote has a broader range of capabilities.
  7. DropBox – Free – DropBox allows you to share files via the “cloud” with multiple users on multiple different platforms. Obviously, highly confidential material needs to be treated with more care, and so this may not be appropriate for all documents you use. But for commonly used forms, standard agreements, standard documents, this is a good solution.
  8. Desktop Connect – $11.99 – Desktop Connection allows you to use your iPad to interact with your desktop or laptop that you left back at your office. You need to have VNC or RDP installed on the desktop/laptop so that the iPad can see the screen. Also, the quality of the connection will govern how useful this application is. In other words, the worse the connection, the less useful this application will be in allowing you to interact with your office computer.
  9. Dragon Dictation – Free – Dragon, the world’s best transcription software developer – has brought Dragon Dictation to the iPad. And it’s free! Dictate memos to yourself. Share them with yourself later at the office.
  10. Memeo connect Reader – Free – If you use Google Docs as the home for some or all of your Word and Excel documents, then the problem becomes accessing those documents when you’re not connected to the Internet. Memeo Connect Reader allows you to download those files so that you can work with them on your iPad.

With these 10 essential apps for lawyers, you’ll be well on your way to using the iPad as more than a toy, and as a genuine tool to help you practice law more effectively.

Basics of Information Security

Accessing information stored in a computer ordinarily will implicate the owner’s reasonable expectation of privacy in the information. See United States v. Barth, 26 F. Supp. 2d 929, 936-37 (W.D. Tex. 1998) (finding reasonable expectation of privacy in files stored on hard drive of personal computer) The below are a few examples to insure your private information remains private.

1. Encrypt the file/folder; Have a passphrase, do NOT use a word due to software that can do dictionary attacks in multiple languages, but you must utilize a passphrase with numbers and characters. DO NOT write it down. If you are a corporation, remember, industrial espionage is rampant. Ex-KGB, and other out of work intelligence officers make a living applying their trade to the highest bidder these days. I prefer PGP, or Blowfish encryption.

2. Use a wiping utility, CyberScrub, Evidence-Eliminator, etc. that wipes the cache area of your computer; this is where passwords are sometimes stored, and the software also has features that allow you to destroy web browsing history, photographs, etc.

3. Trust your computer to no one. Software and hardware devices cost as little as $30 and will record each character you type and e-mail it to the person who wants to know your passphrase, bank account info, etc. Of course, do NOT open e-mail you do not know who it is from since their is spyware you can be e-mailed, and it will install once opened.

4. If you want to put the icing on the computer security cake, use a proxy that does not keep logs of their users activity, and has a rotating IP which makes hacking your computer next to impossible.