Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Blogger.com gives in on anonymity.

Horrified by the hateful words of an anonymous blogger, Liskula Cohen took Google to court to force the company to reveal the writer's identity -- and won.

"Why should anybody let it go? If somebody attacks somebody on the street, you're not going to let it go … why should I just ignore it?" Cohen told "Good Morning America" exclusively today. "I couldn't find one reason to ignore it."

Google initially refused to unmask the unidentified writer, who Cohen, 36, claimed defamed her by posting words like "skanky," "ho", and "whoring" below her photographs. The IP address turned over by Google revealed that the blogger was an acquaintance of Cohen's.

Cohen said it was a woman she hadn't seen in about a year, but who was a regular fixture at dinners and parties, but she was not, as Cohen had feared, someone who was close to her.

"Thank God it was her… she's an irrelevant person in my life," Cohen said. "She's just somebody that, whenever I would go out to a restaurant, to a party in New York City … she was just that girl that was always there."

In August 2008, the unnamed blogger wrote five different posts entitled "Skanks of NYC" on the Google-owned website Blogger.com.

There were two photographs posted on the blog that show Cohen and an unidentified man in sexually suggestive positions. The captions below described her as the "Skankiest in NYC" and a "psychotic, lying, whoring ... skank."

One post read "desperation seeps from her soul, if she even has one."

The blog was eventually taken down even though Google continued to refuse Cohen the IP address until the court ruled in her favor.

Cohen, who described herself as a "serial monogamist" and has a "zero tolerance drug policy," said the words were defamatory and harmful to her career. Prospective clients would question her about the blog and what she was doing in the photos, she says.

"Finding new clients this year has not been a walk in the park," she said. "I've worked very long in this industry."

Cohen and her lawyer, Steven Wagner, said they are now planning a defamation suit against the blogger.

"We're not in it to make money," Wagner told "Good Morning America." "We're in it because something was done that was wrong."

In siding with Cohen, Justice Joan Madden of the New York State Supreme Court rejected the blogger's argument that "blogs serve as a modern day forum for conveying personal opinions, including invective and ranting, and that the statements in this action when considered in that context, cannot be reasonably understood as factual assertions."

Cohen found out the identity of the blogger, whose name has not been made public, on Tuesday and immediately called her.

Cohen says she started out by apologizing to the woman for anything she may have done to earn her ire.

But she says the blogger told her that she didn't know what she was talking about and said the two women should not speak to each other except in the presence of their attorneys.

Cohen said she has chosen to forgive the woman who wrote the nasty words even though she says the blogger has yet to apologize.

"I have pretty solid friendships, and I trust my friends," she said. "I don't know what I would have done if it had been somebody that I valued as a friend."

Wagner said he hoped his client's triumph in court will show others that anonymity on the Internet isn't what it used to be.

"I don't know if it will change the Internet," he said. "It will change the way some people will act on the Internet."

24 comments:

CryBaby said...

I think I'll add her to my blog and title it skank

Anonymous said...

Oh goody, that means we can go after all the slimes who try and slur people with the "ant-semite" cliche just for criticising their alleged homeland's nazi policies.

A.B. Gordon said...

In Britain defamation is a civil matter so unless one has a minimum of £2000 per day to retain a barrister then it will not be relevant.

Anna Raccoon said...

It certainly doesn't look as though Blogger.com is a safe harbour for defamatory language any longer.

The situation is slightly complicated by the fact that this case was fought in the US between two US citizens - and in the US it is the individual writer who bears responsibility for what they write.

There are going to be some interesting upcoming cases in the UK - but the writing is firmly on the wall!

Anna Raccoon said...

A B Gordon - she hasn't gone after her for defamation yet!

The name was revealed in order to enable her to do so - think about it - most people would be quite happy to know the identity of their antagonist, and wouldn't necessarily bother going to court for defamation.......

A.B. Gordon said...

Anna Raccoon point taken. Has it ever crossed bloggers minds to use a pseudonym?

Anonymous said...

Something I have wondered about:
X slanders Y under anonymous forum names. Y Reveals true name. Does this make X liable for slander?

Old Holborn said...

The Old Holborn site will be moving to oldholborn.net shortly

Bastards

A.B. Gordon said...

Slander spoken, libel written. O'H why are you moving?

caesars wife said...

Cohen Cohen where have I heard that name before ??

Might as well get my monies worth then , Gordon brown has lied about the economy , is utterly crap as primw minister and is physcologically flawed bully/coward who has bsted the country and caused pver 3 million people to not have jobs and set the country on a course of civil discotent .

Nothing untrue or not published there then

Anonymous said...

I would not be surprised if this is goverment backed and the start of something more sinister.

If not goverment backed then i have little doubt they will exploit it as if it were.

expect more blogger internet laws to follow!

Rogerborg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rogerborg said...

Label your opinions clearly as such, or you'll get no sympathy from me when some skanky psychopath buys herself some publicity by suing you.

Yes, yes, first they came for the idiots, and I said nothing, for I wasn't an idiot.

Fortunately, the Welfare State has provided us with an inexhaustible supply of idiots to act as a buffer for the rest of us.

Julia Fenton said...

The Old Holborn site will be moving to oldholborn.net shortly

Good idea. You might also want to consider hosting the site overseas. What's fasthosts.co.uk's privacy policy like?

Please also consider moving your email address as well. Gmail stores your entire email history for marketing purposes, and will hand the data over to PC Plod if he asks nicely. It's best to keep all of your email on your own computer, not someone else's server.

VotR said...

Blog on a computer not registered to you in any way. There are legal methods to do this, just don't register after purchasing the computer, for example.

Use an internet account that isn't in your name, there are numerous legal ways of achieving this. The price for anonymity and it's liberties are worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

er, what's actually changed?

Google have had their arm legally twisted and conceded a poster's personal info. But that's in their t&cs.

The poster* was particularly dim and had previously told Google who they really were. So, nicked for being stupid.

If the poster had had an above room temperature iq, then the most Google could do is give a ip. Ok, with that the isp could have been separately legalled for the personal info of the BB account holder. But where does it say this is the poster?

At the worst, two (or more) people with access to the bb connection point the finger at the other. Case over, n'est-ce pas.

*different for the host of a blog perhaps.

Chrystal K. said...

I wonder if this person actually knows the model. That would be pretty awkward for them.

anon@2154 said...

Chrystal K

Yep, she does (distantly).

keyboards that take your finger print or id card scanning said...

At the worst, two (or more) people with access to the bb connection point the finger at the other. Case over, n'est-ce pas.

*different for the host of a blog perhaps.

19 August 2009 21:54

This is why the goverment needs you to admit it was you, this is why the goverment want fingerprint id recognition or internet password id fully registered to you, perhaps through your ID card, just to get on line so they can point the finger at you and only you.

When that happens - for your own good of course after much media publicty of how goos it is for you - identity theft or some such bullshit hyped out of all proportion, then they will have you by the balls no matter how clever you are.

Trust me, it's comming - keep voting for the NWO parties of Lib Lab Con or be a moron and don't vote at all and it is certain to happen!

Anonymous said...

"serial monogamist" Isn't that the definition of Incontinent Tramp?

Ivor Bigot said...

She looks like a tranny hooker in that picture, but apparently she was once on the cover of Vogue. Are those tits or pectorals? Not that I have anything against tranny hookers of course, some of my best friends... oh... er... anyway...

@VotR (and others), as I understand it Google merely provided an IP, so presumably the ISP is complicit as well. However, it's quite easy to separate yourself from whatever highjinks you're up to, google "TOR" for a good starting point.

Anonymous said...

BASTARDS

Charles E Hardwidge said...

Order ! Order !

Technology said...

That's setting a scary precedent for all bloggers.

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