Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Great Wall of Jerusalem

Normally when we talk about evil information corporations giving information to governments, we're talking about places such as China. But TechCrunch has another story.

Google has provided the IP address of an anonymous blogger to an Israeli court as part of a defamation case, according to the Globes Online.

The defamation case centers on allegations against three members of the Shaarei Tikva council posted on Blogger, including posts that suggested the council members took bribes, pretended to be disabled to gain tax advantages, and that the councilmen have links to organized crime. The councilmen asked the court to order Google to hand over the IP address details of the anonymous blogger but the court did not order Google to do so. Instead Google entered into an arrangement where by they would contact the blogger and give him or her 3 days to respond anonymously to the allegations. There was no response from the blogger so Google handed over the IP address to the court and plantiffs despite there being no legal requirement for them to do so.

Google subsequently provided its side of the story:

In terms of this case:

· Members of the Israeli Shaarei Tikva Council asked for an injunction against Google - requiring us to provide the IP address of a blogger who had allegedly defamed them;

· Google opposed the injunction. Amongst other things, we wanted to give the blogger a chance to explain in court why his or her IP address should not be disclosed to members of the council;

· On 18 November the court agreed that the blogger should be sent a notice (via the blog) inviting him/her to appear at a hearing on 25 November 2007;

· The blogger failed to appear at this hearing – in his/her absence, and having considered all the various arguments, the court ordered that the IP address (which it was holding) be provided to the members of the council....

As you can see from the details above Google did oppose the injunction in court, we did not just cave in at the first opportunity and we did argue that the blogger in question should have the chance to make their case. But having considered all sides of the argument the judge ordered that the IP address be handed over.

CNET comments:

So what really happened? Without seeing the original court documents, it's hard to know for sure. But the story seems a bit more complicated than saying Google did this "voluntarily." [Google spokesperson] Langdon...says Google was "required" by law to do so -- which would make this a less interesting and more commonplace situation.

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