And the law might act against Repcheck. Apparently, many Repcheck users will have the mindset of giving some positive feedback, but some will think: "Or, better yet, do you want to generate some dirt?". The generation of dirt will naturally occur with great frequency. Eventually, however, somebody with many dollars will be targeted for numerous negative appraisals. That person will contact a lawyer and sue Repcheck for hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. They can sue Repcheck because the web site is making money from the defamatory publications.
The Communications Decency Act, passed by the Congress in 1996, states that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." This generally means that an Internet service provider, such as a Usenet relay site, can't be held liable for defamatory statements made by people on their system. Users themselves can still be held liable for statements they make. This law appears to be the crown jewel of Repcheck's legal strategy. Nevertheless, there are some chinks in the armor.
Is Repcheck really protected by the CDA? It's not clear that they are a "provider" of "an interactive computer service," in the legal sense. Eventually we will know, but if I had to make by best bet, my answer would be "no." Repcheck seems bent on encouraging users to post negative information about people. They could aggregate data taken from many different individuals. An example would be "59% of our users who know JQ Bobson say he is a liar." They may publish this aggregated data. If they are sued, a court could find that this data originated from Repcheck, and so Repcheck could be held liable for it.
Even if Repcheck is able to fend off defamation suits, they may be sued for invasion of privacy. This type of lawsuit is still relatively new, but I feel that courts would be willing to expand their toolchests to deal with the Repcheck problem.
Repcheck can settle a few suits, but eventually their business model will have to be significantly altered if they are to survive all the lawsuits that will probably come their way. Lawsuits will stalk Repcheck because it is perfectly designed to destroy the personal reputations of private, ordinary citizens who have done nothing wrong save irk an angry person with a modem. While the public may find this entertaining, it won't be fun if you are on the business end of Repcheck's barrel.
The negative opinions on the website will probably have a disclaimer--something on the order of "These opinions aren't Repcheck's." Right below the disclaimer will be the scathing paragraphs that everybody is expecting when they go to Repcheck. While Repcheck may disclaim vigorously, and hold its fingers in the air to assure onlookers of the non-existence of finger crossing, it will avail them not, for everyone knows Repcheck's game. In short, any disclaimer will fall short from insulating Repcheck from legal liability.
Of course, if a statement is true, Repcheck can publish it without legal penalty. But many statements will end up being both hurtful and false, and thus potentially opening the door to lawsuits.
For it's use of the Internet to ruin private personal reputations, Repcheck should die. Because although JQ Bobson (who by the way is a hypothetical creation), and many others like him may really be hateful, horrible, vile-smelling people, he has lived his life outside the public eye. He has committed no crime. He was just mean, low, and petty, and those only arguably. Give him some privacy.
BTW, if you want legal advice, see a lawyer.