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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Google Unmasks Anonymous Blogger

ABC News writes:

Horrified by the hateful words of an anonymous blogger, [model Liskula Cohen] took Google to court in hopes of forcing the company to reveal the writer’s identity – and won. (...)

Google initially refused to unmask the unidentified writer, who Cohen, 36, claimed defamed her by posting words like “skanky,” “ho”, and “whoring” below her photographs. The IP address turned over by Google revealed that the blogger was an acquaintance of Cohen’s.

It’s not the first time Google was asked to share the identity of one of its users. Sometimes, the outcome is different though. Google in their privacy policy explain they will share “personal information with other companies ... in the following limited circumstances ... We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to ... satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request”.

It’s worth noting that if Google wouldn’t have had the user’s IP address, they couldn’t have shared it – right now, Google says their policy is to keep such addresses for 9 months. Google warns us that “As the period prior to anonymization gets shorter, the added privacy benefits are less significant and the utility lost from the data grows.” I wonder though if an opt-out of that “utility” would be feasible for those users of theirs who want extra anonymity?

[Thanks Jérôme, Juha-Matti, and Manoj, who saw it at AllThingsDigital!]


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