Thursday, October 21, 2010

Important court ruling for bloggers to be aware of

This is a common sense decision; it's surprising that it took so long to arrive at this conclusion:
A business consultant who wants to know who's been anonymously disparaging and fixating on her online has gotten a court to force Google to tell her.

As she joined a growing number of people who have persuaded courts to unmask troublesome cyber ciphers, Carla Franklin said Wednesday she hoped her case would help others combat similar problems.

"The Internet cannot become a safe haven for harassers and stalkers," she said in an e-mail.

Google Inc. declined to comment. The Mountain View, Calif.-based online giant says it doesn't discuss individual cases to protect users' privacy, but it follows applicable laws.

A Manhattan court ruling issued Tuesday gives the company a couple of weeks to provide Franklin with identity and contact information for the person or people who posted denigrating comments and unauthorized videos of her, beginning last year.

The videos, posted on Google-owned YouTube, were clips from an innocuous student film in which she had appeared years before, coupled with personal information about her to create an unsettling online shrine, she said. Franklin did some modeling and acting before becoming a consultant to nonprofit organizations.
We used to have a problem with this in the Virginia blogosphere, so much so that we coined a name for it: "Anonymous Blogger Syndrome." Courts around the country are coming to the conclusion that Google and other ISPs cannot conceal the identity of an online harasser from their targets.

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