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Google Did Less Than Required to Protect Her Rights, Blogspot Blogger Says  (View post)

orthomom [PersonRank 1]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
13 years ago4,907 views

To clarify:
It isn't as if I expected Google to defend me against a defamation charge – the words were mine, and I was prepared to go to bat to defend them. What upset me was that I felt that Google showed a lackadaisical approach to notifying me in a timely fashion as to the suit. It's one thing for Google to take no responsibility for the actual defense of the suit (I would not have expected them to), it's another thing entirely not to do everything in their power to give me the chance to defend myself.

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

It's ridiculous – large companies seem to think that us regular folk walk around with a half dozen legal teams on retainer in case something 'comes up'.

"...we encourage you to contact your attorney." about sums it up – why would you be expected to have an attorney at hand? I certainly don't. If somethign like this happened to me I'd be opening up the Yellow Pages and flicking to 'Lawyer'.

It's reprehensible that they didn't notify you as soon as they were first legally asked for your details.

orthomom [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Right, and as mentioned above, their e-mail actually directed me to contact the lawyer for the opposition if I had any questions! As if it is advisable for someone trying to preserve her anonymity to contact the attorney who is actually trying to uncover her identity. I understand that Google likely has a boilerplate letter to notify their users of legal actions against them, but considering how many anonymous bloggers, commenters, and Gmail users who expect Google to at least do the bare minimum to protect their identities, perhaps it's time for Google to draw up a new boilerplate letter.

J. McNair [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

So, it appears that Google is not in a position to give legal advice, but it is in a position to make stupid legal suggestions? And not even in a timely manner? It's like they didn't even care.

Bad Google. No cookie.

(Caveat: IANAL)

Randy Charles Morin [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

She had already lined up an attorney? If a blogger has to line up attorneys in advance, then they should really think twice about what they are blogging.

orthomom [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

I had already lined up an attorney only because I had heard about the lawsuit from a reader, who had seen a story about it in the NY Daily News. So by the time Google got around to informing me of the suit, I had already done some work on protecting myself, thanks only to the head start afforded me by an observant reader's tip. Having at attorney lined up was certainly the last thing I had even thought I would need, considering the relatively innocuous tone of my blog. You should read up on the claims, and the judge's ruling for some idea as to what the actual comments in question were. I think you will be shocked at how mild they actually were – not to mention that they were in actuality made by a commenter to my blog.

David Mulder [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

What bothers me most in this hole case wat that it seemed at first google had acted quite neatly... how the heck is it possible that nobody checked it or something, on what was the idea actually based that google had protected OrthoMom?

orthomom [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Well, I guess in theory they "protected" me to some extent in that they didn't hand the information right over when requested and actually allowed me to intervene. That said, I don't feel they gave me adequate time to properly prepare a defense for myself. Luckily my attorney, Paul Levy of Public Citizen, was well-versed in these proceedings and was able to jump right in and defend my rights. I still shudder at the thought that had I been traveling or otherwise unable to check my e-mail for a few days (remember that I received Google's notification e-mail a day before the first hearing) and had I not received Google's e-mail asking me if I intend to intervene, that they might have gone ahead and provided the information, assuming I did not care to defend my right to remain anonymous.

As I noted above – it isn't that Google out-and-out sold me up a river. It's that they were simply lackadaisical in protecting my privacy. Which is scary when one considers how much information we hold in our Gmail accounts. Is there a strong expectation of privacy on those accounts?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

> I still shudder at the thought that had I been traveling
> or otherwise unable to check my e-mail for a few days

Well, when Google/ YouTube takes down a YouTube video, you won't even get any advanced notice – you'll only learn after it happens, see e.g. the letter printed here: ...

> Is there a strong expectation of privacy on those accounts?

According to a special clause in the US Patriot Act, in some circumstances Google is not allowed to tell people when the gov't queries for private account information, though I'm not sure if they are also not allowed to tell the person whose data was polled: ...

orthomom [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

>Well, when Google/ YouTube takes down a YouTube video, you won't even get any advanced notice – you'll only learn after it happens, see e.g. the letter printed here:

But I'm not talking about having your content removed – I'm talking about having your identifying information handed over on a silver platter. I would think there should be reasonable expectation of a window of notification before one's anonymity is breached.

Peter [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

yep – Google is a disaster and the Patriot Act is an even bigger disaster. everybody who signed that law or wrote any portion of it should be jailed until their deaths.

Murray [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

I find the double standards in this industry fascinating. This is a case where clearly Google is showing that it is indeed a "big company" and teh whole do no evil thing should be modified to "do no evil, unless it benefits us or protects us in someway".

The treatment of this from the normally rabid fan-boy mafia has been unsurprisingly timid. However if you compare this to the treatment of Yahoo, or if this happened to be Microsoft involved in this kind of thing you could bet that the war drums would be rolling loud and clear. Granted in Yahoo's case they actually did give up the identity so it is a bit worse.

The mere fact that Google provides the platform for the free speach gives them some level of culpability. In my mind this is self-protectionism plain and clear.

From where I sit, Google is the new Microsoft in all ways good and bad.

Orthomom – Keep it up and best wishes!


Veky [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

> Is there a strong expectation of privacy on those accounts?

Of course not. In fact, it surprises me how an obviously educated and intelligent person can think that the best way of ensuring her anonymity is to go to the corporation whose primary, public mission is to make world's information universally accessible. I sincerely hope you didn't give the Blogger your real name when you signed up?!

If I wanted to be anonymous on the Net, I'd avoid big crowds. I'd use Tor. I'd use unregistered hardware components (maybe even solder my own). I'd spoof packets. I'd post via old NNTP. I'd choose for ISP a person I personally trust. I'd switch addresses and service providers. I'd seek a citizenship in another country.

Many of these things are not much harder than seeking a good lawyer in the last minute and enduring a stress of the court process. It's just that you do them in advance, not when it might be too late.

(Just to avoid confusion: I'm thinking about hiding from the government. Hiding from your peers on the Net is a totally different thing.)

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