Eileen Lintao, senior manager of member services, PR Society of America, yesterday e-mailed a member that his "access to our online services has been revoked, as per our Terms of Use."

The affected member, who knows of nothing he has done wrong in accessing the Society website, has unsuccessfully sought to know the reasons for the revocation.

justice"Unilateral revocation of my online membership privileges is an absolute travesty in violation of the democratic principles upon which both this nation and the Society have been founded," said the member in an e-mail to Lintao.

Said the member: "Your Terms of Use for online services have no legal standing whatsoever because they were unilaterally prepared and a member is forced to agree to them in order receive a service/information that is implicitly part of being a member. Simply stated, the website belongs to its members and you can not withhold access to members."

A principle of justice and fair treatment in any democratic country is that an accused is allowed to know the accusations against him or her and to have the opportunity to face his or her accusers.

O'Dwyer Co. lawyers have said the 13-page PRSA Terms of Use is not a legal contract because no negotiations have taken place with the users and "coercion" is being attempted on members. They are not bound by any of its terms nor is it legally enforceable, they say.

A contract is where there is an offer, then an acceptance, and then consideration for accepting the offer, say the lawyers.

When you are forced to sign something in order to get benefits you have paid for it is not a contract, they add.

The phrase "at our sole (the Society's) discretion" is used five times in the TOU and signifies a unilateral approach that is anathema to a legal agreement, say lawyers.

The following threat to unilaterally and without explanation revoke privileges is in the TOU: "In addition to the foregoing, PRSA reserves the right to, at any time and without notice, modify, suspend, terminate or interrupt operation of or access to PRSA websites, or any portion of PRSA websites, for any reason."

Publicity, Legal Redress to be Sought

The affected member says that unless he receives an "appropriate bill of particulars in a timely manner" he will take the matter to an "appropriate court of law and public opinion."

He notes that Society president Bill Murray had complained about searches he made on the Society website and both reached an agreement about what the member could or could not search. The member says he has not breached this agreement.