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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Google Did Less Than Required to Protect Her Rights, Blogspot Blogger Says

In a recent court case against Google, it was decided that a Blogspot blogger from the US may keep her anonymity, considering free speech protection rights. Google was partly portrayed to stand up for their users’ rights to privacy in this case, but “Ortho Mom,” the blogger in question, had a different perspective on things. In a commentary in the Jewish Star newspaper she previously wrote that Google Inc, who runs, “was not prepared to do much in the way of defending me against the false and frivolous claims.” I asked Ortho Mom to explain why she concluded this; this is her side of the story.

Ortho Mom tells me that at first, she didn’t know Google was probed for her identity, until she was tipped off by a reader who read about it in the NY Daily News. That’s when Ortho Mom tried to contact Google several times, she says, with no response from them. And that’s when she decided to get an attorney to represent her.

About a week later, according to Ortho Mom, Google via their Legal Support department sent the following email to her – with the mail sent out on February 21st, and the court date being February 22nd:

Google has received a Order to Show Cause for information related to your account, Pamela Greenbaum v. Google, Inc., d/b/a/ Blogger and , Supreme Court of the State of New York for the County of New York (...)

To comply with the law, Google intends to provide responsive documents, unless you inform us that you will file a motion to quash the subpoena or other formal objection.

For more information about the Order to Show Cause, you may wish to contact the party seeking this information at: (...)

Unfortunately, Google is not in a position to provide you with legal advice.

If you have other questions regarding the subpoena, we encourage you to contact your attorney.

Ortho Mom asked Google for a postponement to no avail. She tells me: “They instead signed a stipulation in which they agreed to produce docs pertaining to my identity unless an attorney representing me showed up by a set date. Luckily, I had already lined up an attorney well before I was even informed by Google that there was even a suit.” She adds, “What was unbelievable was that they actually directed me to call the lawyer who was filing the suit to uncover my identity! As if that is an advisable move in a case such as this.”

Google also didn’t send Ortho Mom any papers, but she had to use a service to retrieve them, she says. Neither did Google respond to her response to their “notice” mail, so Ortho Mom says she was left in the dark in terms of knowing whether Google had received her message notifying them she intended to fight Order to Show Cause.

According to Ortho Mom, it turns out that Google actually didn’t merely comply with laws when preparing to give up their user’s privacy – they did less. “The judge actually criticized Google for not following the correct procedure,” Ortho Mom says, “The judge criticized Google in the decision, where she outlined what should have been the proper procedure in a footnote.”

Google was not available for comment so far, but I only contacted them yesterday – should they reply I will post an update with Google’s view on things.


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