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Cease and desist à la CouchSurfing

I’m still reading Brainstorm group at times (too much in fact, should just wait and see what happens). I’ve managed to restrain from replying (well, somewhat) as I feel I really don’t feel like getting angry yet again. But sometimes there’s just no helping a reaction.

This post quotes the complete gag order (I don’t feel comfortable quoting the rest right now, maybe they’ll throw a infringement of copyrights on me ;) :

“CouchSurfing’s new policy is to end all correspondence and immediately suspend the account of any member who notifies CouchSurfing of an intent to pursue a legal action. This policy is for the protection of CouchSurfing members.”

My reply:
“So the options are
a) just take it and shut up about standing up for your legal rights (can CS *really* ditch the laws of every other country except for the US for all eternity?)

b) NOT tell CS if you are going to take legal action – isn’t it more protective of the members to at least give a fair warning before said action takes place?

IF I didn’t know how crooked some of the stuff is and has been at times (not saying all of it, and everyone of the leadership team / whoever in charge all the time), this just tops it.

So let’s get this straight: I’ve in fact donated time and money (multiple times) to an organization that will NOT give half a thought about protecting its members’ legal rights internationally, in the form of not being in any way responsive to any kinds of inquiries (considered threats in here in any way you state them I assume) of getting them enforced? Am I getting it right?”

15 Responses to “Cease and desist à la CouchSurfing”

  • Well, I’m quite amazed. The fact that EU-policies on dataretention and privace are “quite apart” from the US was something we already knew.

    The fact that CS keeps *ALL* messages *ALL THE TIME* was something I simply dislike. I do agree with security, that for an amount of time, sent messages should be able to looked at, but not for years.

    And then the fact that someone got this message? I almost can’t believe it, and am very interested in the idea on this issue…

  • I’m still laughing about the “stop all communication”-part. I guess, like me you all are really afraid about the LT stopping all communication with you? Probably they have to hire another person to make the stop of communication possible. And they definetly need another lawyer to proclaim the exclusive right on all continually non-existence communication. And someone to make sure it’s a non-violent stop of communication.

    Sorry for just mocking here. But if I’d take it too serious, it’ll make me only sad or angry (@ANU*: yes, stay away from it!) There are better things to do: Participate in creating a better, bewelcoming one couchsurfer after another.

  • continually disgusted

    @Anu: Just so I understand, you’re saying that if someone says “screw you, CouchSurfing, I’m going to sue your ass” CS should just keep saying “ok, great, threaten us yet let us still provide you with a service that you still continue to use for whatever reason and that you’re threatening us over”. Really? I’d say if someone was displeased enough with CS to threaten legal action they really shouldn’t be using the site in the meantime or until things are clear for them. Otherwise it’s just hypocritical anyway. But good for CS for not continually supplying them with ammunition for their own twisted causes.

  • Unfortunately threatening with legal action seems the only way to communicate.

    I will never threaten with legal action against CS, but maybe profiles can be deleted on any grounds. Why not for not disagreeing with legal pursuit, or with posting a non-troll comment on this website? CS can do whatever it wants. But it wouldn’t be great publicity.

  • Christopher Culver

    Nearly all Internet communities have this policy. Wikipedia, for instance, has always suspended the accounts of anyone making legal threats against WP or another user. Couchsurfing is just doing what any lawyer would recommend as the usual procedure.

  • To be fair, it’d be quite irritating to be constantly threathened by legal action. Kinda reminds me of when I was a kid and my friends would say “give me that toy or I’ll sue you!”

  • Did your friends sign an NDA before you gave them access to your toys? Or did they merely have to accept your Terms of Use? (:

  • In thread: “This post has been removed by an administrator.” What was the post about?

  • It sounds almost like “CouchSurfing will not negotiate with terrorists”.

  • I was also intriged by that one. LOL @ NDA

  • It was me wanting a spell-check 2 seconds too late (the obligatory CS-snag: who and why HAD to remove the preview???), content almost identical to my post just above there – so this time no reason for conspiracy theories ;)
    (on the other hand, it shows some people with remove-post powers HAVE been reading the thread. Not really enjoying this sort of taking note of the tiniest thing, but this is where we’re at: not much else spills outside and conclusions drawn are based on the past, online surveillance or the occasional deepthroat as it appears. Oh well.)

  • “Nearly all Internet communities have this policy.”
    Does that also include the policy “thou have no right over your own data and privacy and rights to protect your family?

    This issue cannot be trivialized by saying all site or all companies do this and PLEASE compare it with policies of other social networking sites only. They do not. Even google does not store user data for more than a specified time (previously it was for 3-5 years) .

    No one know what would happen in the futures. Who would become and admin and have access to those private email.Where that data could be used.

    Couchsurfing is one of the few sites where people forget the rules

    “The problems encountered in social networking or other anonymous online communities typically fall into three categories:

    1. ID theft, fraud and privacy abuses;
    2 cyberbullying, cyberstalking and harassment; and
    3 sexual predators, con artists and sexual exploitation.”

    Taken from beebo dot com safety tips written by Parry Aftab a lawyer specializing in Internet privacy and security law .

    Couchsurfing literally makes people divulge their personal details by forcing them to put their personal photos and other information online.

    Other sites have the lines below in their privacy policy does couchsurfing?
    The key points of our privacy policy are:

    1 Your privacy remains under your control.
    2 You can end your membership at any time

    Couchsurfing is no longer safe due to so many people having or having had access to very personal date (our real name, address, telephone number, mobile number, your workplace, health club, or links to websites or other profiles that might give this information away also credit card information)
    What people have not realised that in the future if anyone wants to get even with then the only place they need to go to track down a person is couchsurfing. Use some social engineering make friends with the persons best friends . data mine the forum .OR get verified .donate tons of money and hang out with casey and jim stone and rachel and then become an admin.Then you have the persons personal data and personal email transcripts at your finger tips.
    Think about it.Today its all good.It may not be in the future….

  • Another potential missuse of private date (without selling out completely) is using the userdata for personalized ads like fakebook will do:

    AFAIK no normal user agreed with it at CS and there is no such activity right now but who knows? employees have to be paid and the google-snooping-script (urchin.js) is already part of the cs-page.

  • Hmm I see rachel and the LT have secretly updated their TOS (as posted on the public ambassador group) . So on one had they use threats of expulsion and at the same time do see that the posters have a valid point and go and change their TOS.

    The Changes are on the points below
    3.) Section 5.2 (Content restrictions)
    Modify point (i) to add the text indicated by UPPERCASE:


    This is needed because we require members to post their contact info

    1.) Section 2 (User Conduct)
    Modify point (e) to add the text indicated by UPPERCASE:

    * use our Services to transmit, distribute, post or submit any information concerning any other person or entity, including without limitation, photographs of others WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSON, personal contact information or credit, debit, calling card or account numbers;

    This is needed because many members post photographs of their friends.

  • To be fair, the EU is one of the worst at protecting traveler rights. It sounds good on a poster, but is wholly ignored by Busienss. What do you do when you don’t want to break the law, you change it like RyanAir did.

    Considering the US being sue crazy, legal action is actually a break down on both sides and the knee jerk reactions are unfortunate.

    As in the EU, US laws are often not enforced at all or done os in a manner of case history. Now go research how many non-profits get hung by the US legal system that really did nothing more to upset a few people and I am sure you will realize how pitiful the effort really is.

    Go ahead and sue and file with the State attorney’s office. Its all just smoke.., a substitution for something that actually have a positive result.

    Overall I am sure you will find it a complete waste of time, unless a mass of victims and broad legal violations have occurred. Its clear the threats are more a personal feel good statement and in no way will improve anything online.

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