Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Forums under attack, blogs will be next (II)

Informal contacts” have been made, by some McCann advisers, with companies that own web hosting businesses, in order to raise awareness for the risks of being liable to legal action, due to what they consider the amount of slanderous and defamatory messages being posted at specific public forums. Contacts with other companies may follow, as the McCann legal team is analysing what could be the best way of dealing with individual bloggers.

Their first “target” are those blogs that have reproduced and posted links to documents that were leaked from the investigation files (the PJ final report) and those which translate to English, with regularity, news from the Portuguese Press. Also in the list are blogs with direct quotes, from English translations of the book of Gonçalo Amaral, “The Truth of the Lie”.

A more “direct approach” is on the table, but it depends from the lawyer's decision concerning the analysis of the contents of the book of Mr. Amaral. If they consider that they may have reasons to sue the author, the strategy will be similar to what they did with Daily Express Group and British Media: to select a few “high-profile cases”, in the Web, and try to neutralize those bloggers, using the threat of an expensive and long libel suit.

Data collection and new detectives

Since more than eight months, organized groups have been “working” in the net, collecting data from sites where McCann's critics use to post. Some of those groups do it openly, while others have a "job" that requires a more low-profile. After the Daily Express case, the McCann campaign diverted more resources to fight the critics on the Web.

Clarence Mitchell even confirmed an “upgrade” on the technical equipment at the disposal of the McCann "private search", when he told BBC, on July 1, that the McCanns had already their own "very sophisticated intelligence gathering operation.”

Just before that, the Sunday Star, in its printed edition, on June 29, wrote that “the privately funded probe into Maddie's disappearance from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007 has become 'wider and much more sophisticated' according to sources.”

Among the equipment acquired there is a very advanced system that allows to have the calling number always identified, when anyone calls the McCann or their private detective's phone numbers.

The Telegraph reported, on July 2, that the McCann hired a new team of British detectives: “Details about the new team, and what they are being paid, are being kept under wraps.” The new team has elements working abroad, but “they don't want to be identified for operational reasons (...) Any active leads it is felt the police have not followed up properly or left open-ended, they would move on”, according to The Telegraph.

Duarte Levy and Paulo Reis

Version Française