Launches Legal Protection for Intimate Information

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A simple exchange of emails binds the people involved to a powerful legal agreement designed to stop "outing" in its tracks.

Millions of Americans are in the closet about their private behavior -- gays, swingers, fetishists, sado-masochists, transvestites, nudists. Millions more are just dating and don't want their private behavior to show up on a former lover's Facebook page. But that happens all too often.

How to protect all those people from unwanted publicity was a challenge to Douglas Wilson, a Florida attorney whose clients include many people and groups who have had difficulties with such disclosures.

"It can be very risky for people in alternative lifestyles. Scandal can be very costly to them," he said. "People can lose jobs, social standing, friends, even family connections."

Wilson's solution was to create a privacy agreement which provides stiff penalties if a party to it discloses intimate information to anyone. After using it successfully with his clients for years, he realized he could make it available nationwide. So he created the website.

"The nice part of it is that the agreement is enforced in a completely private arbitration which becomes a bare legal judgment for money. Nobody has to go into a public courtroom to tell what private things were wrongly disclosed," he said.

The agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement, in that at least one party to the relationship feels the need for protection. And, like the prenup, because it is an awkward intrusion into an intimate relationship, it may take time for its use to be widely accepted --except by groups of people in the same lifestyle who recognize the importance of mutual protection.

Subscribers to the online agreement pay $12 a year for the ability to verify through's website to other people that they are in fact bound by the privacy agreement. They can verify to as many people as they choose. It's thus possible for entire groups to offer protection to their members.

In addition to avoiding cumbersome paperwork, the service assists subscribers with enforcement. It maintains a budget for that purpose. "But the agreement is a very effective deterrent," Wilson said. "We've never had to enforce it."

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