Thursday, August 20, 2009

Google Revealed The Blogger Identity

In January, the 37-year-old Ms. Cohen sued Google after the search engine giant declined to provide her with the identity of the blogger who made five posts on the "Skanks of NYC" blog in August of 2008.

Although Ms. Cohen's lawsuit received widespread global attention because of its connection to Google, such cases are not uncommon online, where users will often push the boundaries of free speech behind a perceived curtain of anonymity.

"Requiring an intermediary, whether it's an ISP [Internet service provider] or a search engine, to disclose the information they have off of an IP address or an email address is pretty common," said Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa professor who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law.

"But I think it happens a bit behind the scenes ... and sometimes it takes these higher-profile cases for people to better understand that, where required, intermediaries will disclose whatever information they have and that veil of anonymity that some people think they have isn't quite as strong as they think."

Google declined to comment directly on the lawsuit, opting instead to issue a brief statement saying the company sympathizes with anyone who winds up the victim of cyber bullying. "We also take great care to respect privacy concerns and will only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or other court order," the company said. "If content is found by a court to be defamatory, we will of course remove it immediately."