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http://mashable.com/2009/08/19/google-identity-blogger/

Mashable and a number of new outlets are covering the story that a Manhattan judge has ordered Google to reveal the real identity of a blogger in relation to a defamation of character lawsuit filed by a model. If this ruling stands then the precedent will be set and all online communities and the people who set them up and manage them will have the spectre of violating privacy agreements with members.

Now, for the record, if revealing the identity of a blogger or community member helps to solve a violent crime then I am all for it. But in the case of the suit in question, the model took offense to an opinion made by a blogger about her. In the US we have the right to free speech no matter how moronic, hate-filled and childish it may be. In this case the judge based her ruling on the fact that the term 'whore' was used, which she said proved the model's contention that she was being accused of sexual promiscuity. The problem is that much worse words are used every day in rap music and over the last few years the presidents and other politicians have been compared to everyone from the Joker to Hitler and there are no lawsuits.

I think the Judge is walking a fine line on this one and the result of this case could have a chilling effect on community building online.

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Last Post by MktgRob
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Yes there's free speech, but free speech is for the living not for the anonymous. If you've got something to say - Back it up.

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I'm not sure how the blogger was contributing to "community building" by staying anonymous and devoting his blog entirely to ad hominem attacks against Liskula Cohen on a remotely hosted blog.

I would defend his right to say what he wants to say, but I agree with the previous poster that if someone has something to say he should take off his cowardly "cyber-burkha" and say it in the open. And take the consequences.

I agree with the judge's opinion here, because someone who thinks she's been defamed has a right to know who her accuser is, and a right to sue, as the law stands:

"On Monday in the US, Judge Joan Madden ruled that Cohen was entitled to sue the blogger for defamation and, in an unprecedented move, forced Google to provide the blogger's name."

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/model-forces-google-to-reveal-skank-bloggers-identity-20090819-epz0.html

Having said that, I hope she lets the matter drop now that Google have shut down the site.

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This type of issue was going to come up sooner or later.
One important factor is that the court's stance on this cyber case. This may lead to a plethora of similar cases being reviewed, both in civil and criminal courts.

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I absolutely agree that if someone says something that accuses someone of questionable behavior then they should be exposed and punished. And I also agree that if you are going to say something you should identify yourself and take credit for your comments.

My fear is that as with many precedent-setting legal decisions, what is intended to be a scalpel to surgically remove offensive material will be turned into a cudgel to try to silence an opinion by someone or some group who has an opposing opinion.

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My position is that people who make personal attacks from a position of anonymity should be exposed out of respect for the victim's right to know who the attacker is (and also out of contempt for those kind of cowardly attacks).

The victim will then be able to exercise her own right to free speech and respond fully, knowing the identity of the attacker. She can also choose to take the matter to court if she wishes.

Beyond that, though, I don't think the attacker should be subject to any additional punishment otherwise the law will swing too heavily against freedom of speech.

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I'm not sure how the blogger was contributing to "community building" by staying anonymous and devoting his blog entirely to ad hominem attacks against Liskula Cohen on a remotely hosted blog.

I would defend his right to say what he wants to say, but I agree with the previous poster that if someone has something to say he should take off his cowardly "cyber-burkha" and say it in the open. And take the consequences.

I agree with the judge's opinion here, because someone who thinks she's been defamed has a right to know who her accuser is, and a right to sue, as the law stands:

"On Monday in the US, Judge Joan Madden ruled that Cohen was entitled to sue the blogger for defamation and, in an unprecedented move, forced Google to provide the blogger's name."

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/model-forces-google-to-reveal-skank-bloggers-identity-20090819-epz0.html

Having said that, I hope she lets the matter drop now that Google have shut down the site.

To clarify my original intent on starting this thread, I never implied that the blogger in question was helping to build a community. But if you build a community based around a group of people who share a specific viewpoint on politics or lifestyle or whatever and there is some who disagrees with them, not for a reason of being libeled but just because they disagree with them, then any precedent from this case could possible be used to shut down that community in a malicious way.

As I said in my second comment on this thread, my fear is that as with many precedent-setting legal decisions, what is intended to be a scalpel to surgically remove offensive material will be turned into a cudgel to try to silence an opinion by someone or some group who has an opinion that someone disagrees with.

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Oh, unfortunately this case has opened additional can of legal worms.
http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2009/08/23/2009-08-23_outted_blogger_rosemary_port_blames_model_liskula_cohen_for_skank_stink.html
Imagine now this case will also cause many popular sites to revise their disclose form.

As I told my daughter today, we live in a litigious society where egomaniacs rule the day. Makes one long for the return to the quick, effective practice of Dueling!

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