Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 18:52:20 -0500
Subject: Re: Urgent Request
From: Cary W [email@example.com]
To: "Rewari, Sona" [firstname.lastname@example.org]
First let me apologize for the delay in responding to your request. For
clarity, the discussion thread in question resides here:
This is an interesting legal and moral dilemma and I am unsure of exactly
how to proceed. Fairfax Underground has a rich history of free speech and
as such the standard operating procedures are to NEVER delete any
legitimate content from the forums, regardless of how mundane or childish,
so long as the claims made therein are true, and it doesn't violate one of
the extremely simple rules which are: No spam, no complete garbage, no
personal attacks, and no impersonation.
With that said, however, Fairfax Underground also takes the security and
privacy of its users very seriously, and routinely removes content that was
posted specifically to harass or embarrass other users. The motivation for
this post does not seem to be malicious, rather intellectually curious, and
as such doesn't qualify for moderation based on a personal attack.
Do you know of a Virginia law that explicitly prohibits the disclosure of
this information? The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
(FERPA) applies only to schools themselves, not necessarily
non-authoritative third party sources. If you can identify a section of
the Code of Virginia that explicitly prohibits the disclosure of this
information I will certainly remove it, but without such a clear
prohibition my gut instinct is to allow the thread and attached files to
Can you confirm that this file truly does contain accurate information
regarding the grades of students at Fairfax High School? As I have no way
to verify the authenticity of such this file I assume it could just as
easily be a hoax. Similarly, as this .pdf file comes from an anonymous
source, and is hosted on a server that has no relation to the school system
whatsoever, the material contained therein should never be trusted as
authoritative information by any college or employer.
If this document exposed private information such as social security
numbers or home addresses I would certainly remove it immediately; but as
it stands there's nothing intrinsically dangerous about the information
revealed, only embarrassing.
Please rest assured that I have and will retain full logs of this incident
indefinitely, however, I do not intend to ever reveal them without a valid
court order. Please note that the thread in question was posted from a
"Tor" exit node, a sophisticated anonymizing network, which makes it very
unlikely that the original author will ever be positively identified.
With all of that said, most of the damage has already been done. As this
file has been posted on Fairfax Underground for over 48 hours and has
already been downloaded hundreds of times removing the file and/or thread
would not halt the redistribution of this information. Removing the thread
in question at this point would only serve to inconvenience the casual
browser, and may even lead to individuals altering the original file to
disparage or glorify a student or teacher, and then passing off their
modified version as the true original.
As I type this message I understand that various media outlets have picked
up the story, as there is a discussion underway in the thread in question
itself discussing the merits of retaining vs deleting this information. At
this point I intend to allow the discussion to play out, listening to the
concerns of the community (both for and against removing the content) and
will come to a decision regarding this issue tomorrow.
I sincerely apologize for the trouble this issue has caused. While Fairfax
Underground does strive to be a free place for whistle blowers to share
sensitive and embarrassing information, it certainly does not intend to
play host to the unnecessary exposure of innocent people.
If you have any further questions or requests please don't hesitate to ask.
Thanks and enjoy!
- Cary Wiedemann