Shiva Ayyadurai sues people who publicly disagree with his contentious claim to have invented “e-mail”. With legal muscle from Charles Harder, the lawyer vindictive billionaire Peter Theil paid millions to crush Gawker, Ayyadurai is suing the outspoken policy and tech website Techdirt for $15 million. Now Harder has sent legal threat letters to suppress posts on the Diaspora platform by Techrights blogger Roy Schestowitz.
There has been a noticeable chilling effect. Boing Boing hasn’t written about this latest suit at all, nor has Ken White of Popehat (he may be on the legal defense team). ArsTechnica wrote one of the driest, most lawyered up seeming articles I’ve ever read on the recent threat letter. And Gizmodo reports that Peter Theil won’t say if he’s paying for the lawsuit against Techdirt.
Peter Theil’s initial backing, and the specter of future involvement, are a game changer to our First Amendment rights. When a billionaire backs other people’s questionable defamation lawsuits to the point that he can destroy multi-million dollar media companies, as he did to Gawker, the rest of us are all in trouble because our legal system is massively tilted in favor of those with deep pockets. If the media and individuals don’t have the practical right to freely debate the questionable claims of people like Shiva Ayyadurai, then we all lose - well, all of us who aren’t well financed defamation bullies.
Does anyone in here who’s heard of these suits not feel chilled by Ayyadurai’s threats? Anyone not self-censoring what they are willing to write about him?