Tuesday, 12 August 2003

Public Obnoxiousness

There are some people, often deranged, sometimes just Mean, who take delight in causing problems for others. And the Internet is a perfect vehicle for them.

Case in point : (I can't vouch for the accuracy of this address information, it may be forged in order to cause trouble)

Bill White
Attorney retired
P.O. Box 811335
Macy's Plaza
Los Angeles, California
Email: bill747white@ureach.com
Fax 509-277-8825
Voice Mail 509-277-8825

Mr White appears to have some moderately serious mental illness, rather than being an evil little twerp. I hope he gets some treatment for this, for his sake and for that of other people.

He's not short of money. He spends a large amount buying Internet domains in other people's names, then posting usually sexually explicit and always completely baseless malicious falsehoods about them. Fortunately, they're so blatant, they're easily disproved. Subtlety is not his forte. Whether he believes them himself is open to question - he may indeed merely be the sad victim of a rather spectacular case of Paranoia. That doesn't help those who have ever met him though, they're victims of his condition too.

His activities have been so obnoxious, he's even caught the attention of the LA Times. But according to Pacific Media Watch, stopping him is going to be hard, and he's already done untold damage.
Over the next few years, White obtained several personal computers, which he keeps in his apartment in downtown Los Angeles. He said he spent "lots of time" on his sites. Many of those sites include information about people that White apparently found while combing the Internet. "This is what is so nice about the Internet," he wrote. "You can do most of it without leaving your desk."
"I had no idea what he meant," said Smith-Christopher, a professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. "Then two days later, another e-mail came. It said, 'Your Web page is up Daniel.' "

On the page -- the first of several to appear -- White alleged that Smith-Christopher had AIDS. Another page urged readers to send a contribution to a memorial fund for Smith-Christopher at Loyola Marymount.

Smith-Christopher said he doesn't have AIDS. He tried to have the sites removed, but finally gave up, he said, after discovering that one Web host company was in Pakistan.

Around the same time, Sir Peter Barter, a government minister in Papua New Guinea, heard of White's Internet campaign against Divine Word. Barter sent White e-mails telling him to stop.

White constructed several sites about Barter, including one that incorporated the logo of Barter's travel firm and urged prospective customers to boycott the business, which specializes in taking foreigners to Papua New Guinea.
Barter said he believes the sites cost him millions of dollars in lost business. In 2001, Barter traveled to Los Angeles in hopes of stopping White's Internet activity. Barter asked officials from the Los Angeles Archdiocese to sue White in civil court over the Web sites. The archdiocese declined, deciding that a suit would be "an exercise in futility," said a spokesman, Tod Tamberg.

And today, when Sir Peter Barter enters his name in a Google search, the first 10 sites found are usually Web sites created by Bill White.
There appears to be no quick end in sight. Anyone who's ever seen, met, been seen by,or otherwise come to the attention of Bill White is likely to be a victim, sooner or later.
White -- wearing a Cincinnati Bengals jacket and a button-down shirt -- refused to speak on the record about his activities. But in subsequent e-mails, he repeatedly expressed astonishment that The Times was focusing on him instead of on the alleged scandal he said he is trying to expose.

Then, five days after the meeting, White posted a web site about the reporter, followed soon by sites about two Times editors.

"I think I would give up eating to maintain my sites," White wrote when asked about his endgame. "Well, almost. Well, maybe I would eat less."
Poor Bill White is a victim of mental illness. Others don't have this excuse.
Catalina Hosting, based in Avalon on Catalina Island, now hosts the bulk of White's sites. A company employee said in an e-mail responding to an inquiry from The Times that the company has received complaints about White's sites but has chosen not to remove them.
"We are glad he has the time [to] spend his money with us," the employee said in the e-mail.
Interesting, given their Conditions of Service
The following are list of contents, behaviors, and links that are considered UNACCEPTABLE to Company and are subject to prosecution to the fullest extent of the law:
Sites that contain, promote, or are linked to topics such as nudity, pornography, adult content, sex, or foul language.
Sites that have been promoted through spamming or mail fraud schemes, or pages promoting the sending of unsolicited email.
Any infringement of copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret or other intellectual property rights.
Contents promoting to racism, or otherwise extremely offensive to others, including those which aggravates, harasses, threatens, or abuses others.

Oh yes, why am I making myself a target for him? Two reasons: I refuse to be terrorised, and besides which, from all accounts I'm one of the few Australians he hasn't targetted. Yet. That risk isn't noticeably increased by this article. If I'm not afraid of posting some rather anti-Islamofascist articles on The Command Post, I'll be damned if I'll fear some pathetic (as in, he deserves pity, not spite ) individual who just goes around telling fibs.

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