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Monday, November 19, 2007

Blogspot Blogger May Remain Anonymous, Court Decides

Mayer Fertig at the Jewish Star on November 2nd reports (my link/ emphasis):

A lawsuit intended to unmask the blogger known as “Orthomom” has failed, preserving a closely guarded secret of the online world.

Former Lawrence School Board trustee Pamela Greenbaum, once a frequent target of commenters on the site, filed suit against Google, which hosts the Orthomom blog, seeking the blogger’s name. Her intent, she said, was to file a lawsuit directly against the writer of the blog, who she claimed had called Greenbaum a bigot and anti-semite.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman disagreed, writing in an eight page decision dated October 23, 2007, that, “The relief sought by Greenbaum, on the eve of a school board election, would have a chilling effect on protected political speech.” The judge also found that a commenter on the blog, not the blogger, had used the term bigot which, in any event, the judge found, was protected speech.

Some bloggers say that Google stood up for the privacy of their users this time, as opposed to another recent case in India that made news. The blogger called Orthomom herself sees things a bit differently, writing a piece on the court ruling in the Jewish Star (my emphasis):

If it hadn’t been for a tip from a concerned reader, the case quietly filed against Google by Pamela Greenbaum to have me unmasked might have been over before it started. One day I’m happily blogging along between carpool runs, the next I’m looking for a good First Amendment lawyer. And it was a good thing I managed to procure once, as I soon found out that Google, Inc. was not prepared to do much in the way of defending me against the false and frivolous claims presented by Ms. Greenbaum and her attorney.

Orthomom adds that the US Supreme Court had ruled before that anonymous free speech must be protected. “It is crucial to the free exchange of ideas, whithout any fear of reprisals or retribution for holding opinions that are potentially unpopular,” she says.

[Thanks Tadeusz Szewczyk!]

Update: Ortho Mom clarifies her stance.


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