1550 Little White Lies
The US Supreme Court is considering a proposed change in law that would let you sue companies that publish little white lies.
The case pits an ordinary guy against the internet search-for-fee site Spokeo. Spokeo is loaded with the kind of personal information that we have always craved.
Is he or she married or single? Educated or a dropout? Solvent? What if the information is wrong and someone loses a job or points on a credit score because of misinformation in an internet search?
Spokeo says in court papers that people should be allowed to sue only if there’s actual damage. The proposed change would allow a relatively low payout in a suit even if no one but you looked at your report.
Conservative justices who have spoken publicly don’t want the law. Liberals are divided.
How did the misinformation get to the website? Did the subject of the search lie? Did the site mistype the data? Is there name confusion? After all, there may only be one or two Lyro Panacallis. But there are an awful lot of John Smiths or Mary Joneses (check any motel register if you doubt this.)
Jrs. are often confused with Srs. Twins have recently defeated facial recognition software at a state motor vehicle bureau. Most of these errors are innocent. Some are just careless. Few are malicious.
So, the question is “what is right?” Laws are essentially cookie cutters. They are mass production Thou Shalt Nots. Most are couched in complicated legalese designed to confuse and mystify. And most are open to interpretation.
There are simple laws that require none of this. “No Right Turn.” “Stop.” But once it gets beyond traffic control, it’s anyone’s game. Look at any murder trial if you disagree.
So, what to do about the little white lies. Given the makeup of the activist court, chances are this will be defeated. But it’s still hard to tell what’s right.
And that’s no lie
--Speaking of the Supreme Court, it has slammed the gates on St. Preet. In effect it legalized insider trading and forced federal prosecutor Bharara of New York to drop seven of the cases on which much of his reputation rests. The court so narrowed the criteria for the crime that only an imbecile could fail to avoid prosecution.
--China admits it is burning more coal than previously reported. Much more. So which came first, the Chinese Little White lie or Volkswagen’s.
--It is November and that means someone better get down to the third subbasement and awaken WestraDamus the Non-prophet. He has his work cut out for him this year because so much happened. Feel free to send in suggestions you find important for him to screw up.
-Which school bathrooms are transgender kids and teachers supposed to use?
-Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp recently bought a big stake in National Geographic Magazine and to the surprise of no one, the layoffs are starting.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015