Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai vs Mike Masnick and Techdirt: Rights for Digital Citizens

Dr. V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai is an academic scientist, a brilliant thinker, and a man who is dedicated to providing systems to solve modern problems in the areas of biology, health, nutrition and alternative medicine. At the age of 14 he was the the inventor of email. Time Magazine notes that Dr Ayyadurai holds the first copyright for email.  Since 2014 Techdirt.com has embarked on a vicious campaign to humiliate and discredit Dr Ayyadurai and his status as the inventor of email.

On January 4th 2017 Dr Ayyadurai filed defamation proceedings against the website Techdirt.com, its owner Mike Masnick, his company Floor 64 Inc, an author of the defamatory content, Leigh Beadon and a number of ‘Does’. This lawsuit was not a knee jerk reaction to comments on some obscure blog. According to Alexa.com, Techdirt.com is ranked in the top 10,000 websites in the USA. This means that content is ranked highly in the Google search results (SERPs) for the name of any person vilified on this website.


Wikipedia states that Techdirt is an internet blog that reports on technology’s legal challenges and related business and economic policy issues in context of the digital revolution and specifically focuses upon intellectual property, patent, information privacy and copyright reform. There is evidence that Techdirt.com is a shill for Silicon Valley interests that are concerned with preserving the free reign over the global marketplace that opened up via the Internet, and that has been utilised to generate massive profits.

Techdirt’s  interests (revenue and status) have been advanced by using its online presence to decimate individual rights such as freedom from abuse, the right to own what one creates, and the right to privacy in order to support the corporate interests of complete ownership and the ability to profit with impunity. Techdirt’s content is overwhelmingly devoted to disparaging those including Dr Ayyadurai, myself, revenge porn victims, and the people who fight on their behalf of victims whose digital rights are decimated by corporate power. Clearly Masnick and Techdirt have no moral compass and no soul. Most egregiously, Techdirt.com was the ONLY major website that I can find that recently published the name of a woman suing search engines to obtain removal of revenge porn.

I was ridiculed on Techdirt in 2015 when my impending trial v Google Inc was publicised in the Australian media. My litigation was over defamation published on a notorious extortion racket website that is given a hight ranking in the Google SERPs. RipoffReport.com pays writers to set up reputation shakedown schemes or simply to enact the vengeful desires of their founder, Ed Magedson, This website has destroyed thousands of lives, careers and families over its almost two decades of inflicting emotional terror. RipoffReport.com has recently been sued for $60 million dollars because Ed Magedson paid a person to defame and ultimately destroy the practice of a plastic surgeon and decorated army colonel and war veteran. This anti-social arrogance is reminiscent of the Gawker.com website as reported in the New Yorker in 2010.

In June 2015, after six years of unsuccessfully pleading and litigating for removal, and 18 days before the commencement of the trial, I realised that I had no choice but to run it myself because I had no money left at all. As stated by the trial Justice, Google had refused to mediate and my law firm could not afford to spare a senior lawyer for the two weeks needed to run the trial. I spent those 18 days churning out trial books on an old printer and binding them on a spiral binder I had bought on eBay. I walked into the Supreme Court with a shopping cart full of trial books, in a complete state of exhaustion, and with no idea how to get through the day, let alone the trial. The trial was horrendous. I was on my own, scared and exhausted. I had no support and no idea of what to do. Google flew in most of their legal team and they commandeered conference rooms and the nearby Hilton Hotel to  strategise how to break me. I remember on the first day I was so exhausted I could barely stand up. I spent a lot of the trial crying.

I had to face a courtroom full of experienced lawyers all baying for my blood, alone, and with no legal experience. Google tried to run a scorched earth defence, withheld evidence, dropped folders of documents to my house less than 48 hours before the start of the trial (on a Saturday) and embarked on a process of character assassination using selective documents from my former employer. These documents were in my files because I had complained about bullying and sexual harassment on behalf of myself and others.

I remember that during the trial the Justice referred to reviewing evidence overnight. I could not do this. I went home every night, curled up on my bed, buried my face in the scruff of my dog’s neck and sobbed.  The Defendant’s medical expert testified in his evidence in chief in the subsequent damages trial to the impact of the trial on my mental and physical health. I half heartedly commenced a fundraiser but it was used against me by Techdirt and so I gave up. I have never felt so lonely and scared in all of my life!

The Defendant partly succeeded with its scorched earth defence. The Court can only rule on the evidence put before it and I did not know how to stop the Defendant’s defence by character assassination. But I won the case on liability on October 27 2015 and subsequently faced a barrage of online attacks spearheaded by Techdirt.

In the months since the trial I have been subjected to vicious comments on Techdirt and sent to my blog by their supporters that include threats of harm, attempts to intimidate, online vilification and ridicule as well as false accusations that I sued Google for the money, am involved in reputation management for the purposes of extortion, need to be locked up because I am mentally incompetent, and am a criminal. I asked Masnick and Cushing if they would at least remove the comments that state I am a criminal but they refused. Yet Masnick used his contacts to obtain removal of posts from the website Pissedconsumer.com. Moreover, comments that are critical of Masnick and any ideas that are counter to the Techdirt ideology are not published, held over for ‘moderation or hidden on the website. I had spent months at a time during this battle waking up and not wanting to live anymore. I wondered why, after I won, for many months my first thoughts every morning were of suicide. But I have realised that these people enjoy the power of inflicting a ‘mob’ attack.

Free speech?

In the Internet age it appears that the fall back excuse for violations of civil and legal rights is freedom of speech. Masnick and the Techdirt authors bleat ad nauseam that free speech entitles them to denigrate individuals and steal the content owned by others. In effect, Techdirt uses its privileged position in the Google SERPs to justify their spurious claims by rallying a group of ‘anonymous cowards’ in a type of mob mentality attack. This earns considerable revenue for Masnick because he is paid by tech corporation interests to push their agenda of trampling on the civil and legal rights of individuals and businesses.

Masnick’s ‘argument’ (if it could be so termed) is devoid of any legitimate theoretical or factual basis. The philosophical underpinnings of free speech NEVER intended it to be a civil ‘right’ that can be used without restriction to impinge on the rights of others. The architect of the doctrine of freedom of speech, JS Mill, placed one simple principle on the limitation of free expression, known as the ‘harm principle’. As noted in a publication by Stanford University, the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.

Academics have further argued with respect to the extension of freedom of speech that when physical harm or psychological offence is inflicted upon others, four considerations are pertinent. These are:

  1. The content of the speech;
  2. The manner in which the speech is expressed;
  3. The intentions and the motives of the speaker;
  4. The circumstances in which the speech takes place.

If these considerations are ignored, free speech may be abused and used as a weapon to undermine individual right to human dignity and equality of concern and respect. If someone’s reputation is damaged by the global publication of falsehoods it is also harm.

Power To Destroy

In the Internet age, much like in pre-democracy battles, the rights of individuals are subsumed to those who have power. Google and the high ranking websites have the power to push ideology to the masses, or alternatively to steal the rightfull property and destroy the lives of ordinary people. For most there is no recourse. i know because for the past six years (and to this day) I have been contacted by many people faced with online decimation. I try to help but I honestly do not know what to say, especially if they are in the USA because section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives blanket immunity to search engines and website. It is THIS law that has permitted websites like RipoffReport.com, Techdirt.com and Gawker.com to destroy lives. But this law does not protect website owners and the authors from the legal repercussions of content that they write!

The editors and owners of these websites that profit from destroying reputations and inflicting global humiliation (Ed Magedson, Nick Denton and Mike Masnick) all have one thing in common and it is not a talent for journalism: They get off on hurting people for either profit or kicks or both of these. They are NOT innovators of the Internet or the guardians of free speech. Rather, they are just talentless hacks who discovered a way to profit from riding the wave of innovation and hooked into the idea that global humiliation and destroying lives could be used to turn a profit. The content that they produce does not remotely abide by any of the standards of journalism ethics. This is just pure cruelty!

Fighting Back

Dr Ayyadurai has previously successfully sued Gawker.com backed by a man who considers his support of the lawsuits as one of his greatest philanthropic endeavours. The problem is always how do ordinary people fight back against entrenched interests? It is very difficult to fight a global corporation: Single digit millionaires cannot afford to take on powerfull corporate interests. I am sure Dr Ayyadurai will prevail against Masnick, the head of a bunch of disaffected anonymous cowards who enjoy ‘mob attacks’ on those who cannot adequately defend themselves. These men are standing up for ordinary citizens and I applaud them.

Before this long fight to clear my name I would rather walk away from battles rather than fight them. But through my experience with RipoffReport, Techdirt and their cronies I have realised that the only way to fight fire is with fire. I know that my life will never go back to the way it was before I was defamed by a website that destroys people for profit. Masnick was correct about the ‘Streisand Effect’. But I will fight on, as difficult as it is sometimes, because this is the only way to effect change for ordinary people.

Techdirt.com have gleefully pointed out that they are immune from litigation from Australia. However, their hosting service is not because it has a global presence. Currently I am waiting for the Full Court to hand down the appeal. I have sued Google again and because I have no income and no remaining savings I successfully applied to the court to order Google to pay the $2,500 filing fee to be paid from my damages that are held pending the outcome of the appeal. I intend to sue over the Techdirt.com defamation if and when I can raise the filing fee. But in the meantime, the thought that Masnick may endure sleepless nights is, as ashamed as I am to admit it, pleasing to me. Dr Ayyadurai’s lawsuit is not only about the reputation of one person and it is not about who invented email per se.

The crux of the matter is that this lawsuit is not about free speech as Masnick noted. But it is about protecting the rights of individuals against a perversion of the doctrine of free speech in which power is used to promote corporate interests and the shills that they fund. With a bit of luck Techdirt.com will go the same was as Gawker.com, into bankruptcy and obscurity and there will be one less blight on humanity.