A Quick Reminder For Bloggers At Blogger.com

Filed as News on November 29, 2007 7:52 am

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Bloggers who enjoy blogging anonymously at the Google-owned Blogger.com might want to hear about a recent legal kerfuffle in Israel.  Specifically, Global Voices Online reports that a local Tel Aviv court had recently ordered Google to hand over the IP of an anonymous blogger who wrote defamatory remarks on his Blogger.com hosted blog (they call the comments slanderous, but really, wouldn’t it be libel instead?)

To no one’s surprise, Google has worked within the boundaries of local laws, and has in fact, given up the IP of the blogger in question.  Further details over at TechCrunch have emerged that confirmed my own suspicions in the matter, in that Google did work through a process, but did give the IP over according to their own Terms of Service.

They read, specifically “Google may investigate any violations to “comply with any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request” ”

I think there are some legitimate reasons for wanting to blog anonymously.  However, if you’re going to do it and you want to avoid persecution for whatever reason, clearly you may want to avoid doing it with a service such as Google.  They will do their best to work through local laws, but have long ago decided to work *within* those local boundaries in almost *all* of its services.

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  1. By Darnell Clayton posted on November 29, 2007 at 5:39 pm
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    What’s with the Google hate over here recently?

    The blogger in question was posting serious libel about politicians, in which he/she deserved to be hauled before the authorities.

    Although I support freedom of speech as much as the next, as long as you are not making false accusations, you should be able to post about whatever you want.

    Unless you live in a hostile nation (like China), then posting anonymously against individuals is IMHO cowardance. Especially if you are unable to back up what you accuse someone of.

    ~Darnell

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  2. By Alex Roshuk, Esq. posted on December 2, 2007 at 10:27 pm
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    The word “slanderous” is an adjective that can be used as follows: “That slanderous statement gives you a cause of action for libel in a court of law.” While the legal meaning of the noun “slander” generally refers to a transitory statement (usually verbal) there is also “slander of title” which refers to a statement, verbal or written, that “casts doubt on another person’s ownership of property.” (from West’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edition, 1999, page 1393). Using “slanderous” as an adjective implies that the statement is defamatory. Note that even slander can mean the legal definition (which is the slander v. libel dichotomy) or it can refer to the act of making a defamatory statement be it slander or libel. see: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/slander .

    Generally speaking Google does not hand over any information easily because usually any discovery that one seeks from Google may disclose certain trade secrets relating to their algorithms and thus, Google usually seeks a protective order or asks for a signed confidentiality agreement before releasing any any information that may reside on their servers. Obviously they don’t want to make it easy for lawyers to dig into their proprietary materials (and I know this from personal experience having served subpoenas on Google).

    In any case, in most jurisdictions, including here in the United States, any logged information on a server is subject to discovery through legal process (service of a subpoena giving the parties involved time to get it quashed or limited) and thanks in part to the new Federal Rules of Evidence most information is going to be kept by ISPs and other internet service providers so that they do not go afoul of federal law. If someone really wants to be anonymous they have to somehow “anonymize” their IP information by going through a service in a third country where only the police conducting a proper criminal investigation would be able to subpoena such records. Even Google has been planning to discard this information after a two year period “unless legally required to retain the data for longer.”

    As far as defamation is concerned there are issues about dealing with blogosphere defamation and I am reviewing Prof. Glenn Reynolds recent paper on Libel in the Blogosphere on my blawg so do stop by soon.

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  3. By How do you know it was libel? posted on December 3, 2007 at 6:03 am
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    A new site had published English translations of the blog in question and also of the judge’s verdict. I see no libel there. If they are classified as criminal libel, so can be you and I. See for yourself: http://shaarei-tikva.behirot.net

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