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Google Gives Up IP of Anonymous Blogger 386

Posted by kdawson
from the balancing-rights dept.
An anonymous reader alerts us to a story out of Israel in which Google (its Israeli subsidiary) gave up the IP address of a Blogger user without being compelled to do so by a court. A preliminary ruling was issued in which a court indicated that the slander the blogger was accused of probably rose to the level of a criminal violation. Google Israel then made a deal with the plaintiffs, local city councilmen whom the blogger had been attacking for a year. Google disclosed the IP address only to the court, which posted a message (Google says the anonymous blogger got it) inviting him/her to contest the ruling anonymously. When no response was received within 3 days, Google turned over the IP address to the plaintiffs' lawyers.
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Google Gives Up IP of Anonymous Blogger

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  • by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @07:00PM (#21498527) Homepage
    Google Gives Up IP of Anonymous Blogger

    Sounds like that guy could use a good IP attorney.
    • Re:double entendre (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Klaus_1250 (987230) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @07:29PM (#21498865)
      Sounds like he was not anonymous in the first place. But doesn't this violate Google Privacy policy, giving up address/personal information without a court order? And what about not being evil? Giving up anyones address/identity if some authority asks for it, without going through appropriate legal channels, doesn't sound good to me.
  • Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Aurora (969557) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @07:02PM (#21498545)
    ...in contrast to Google's vow to protect its users' privacy [boston.com] early last year. Although this is a very different situation...criminal libel instead of general aggregate use data. Perhaps Google cares about its users as a whole but not as individuals.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      First the Israeli court came for the Israeli criminal blogger. But I was not an Israeli criminal blogger so I did nothing.

      Next the Israeli court ... did some kind of Israeli law thing ... and then the story kind of went nowhere ... so again, I did nothing.

      I really need something to do. But I lack motivation. I suppose I could blog ... nah.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @09:15PM (#21499841)
        > First the Israeli court came for the Israeli criminal blogger. But I was not an Israeli criminal blogger so I did nothing.
        > Next the Israeli court ... did some kind of Israeli law thing ... and then the story kind of went nowhere ... so again, I did nothing.
        > I really need something to do. But I lack motivation. I suppose I could blog ... nah.

        And when (in Soviet Russia!), the Jews came for YOU, Google had already given them your IP address!

        • by empaler (130732)
          One of the rare instances of a good Soviet joke, and the mods miss it. Hah!
          (You could say *I* missed it too, as I don't have mod points today)
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @08:05PM (#21499237)
      Perhaps Google cares about its users as a whole but not as individuals.

      tell me why Google should ignore criminal abuse of its networks and services.

      tell me why someone shouldn't have the right to ask Google for help in the prosecution of a crime.

      tell me when "the right to privacy" became a right to injure others anonymously - safe from any consequences.

      • by jdgeorge (18767)
        tell me when "the right to privacy" became a right to injure others anonymously - safe from any consequences.

        When it was discussed on Slashdot, of course. Silly.
      • by db32 (862117)
        Seems to me that is the "right to privacy". The ability to question the government without reprisal like this and all that...
        • The ability to question the government without reprisal like this and all that...

          Questioning the government and making false accusations against specific members of the government are two very different things.
      • by GodInHell (258915)
        When you do it from an internet cafe?

        -GiH
      • >tell me why Google should ignore criminal abuse of its networks and services

        According to which final ruling? Innocent unless proven guilty.
        I haven't heart the defense yet. Tell me why Google should be on the prosecutors side. This is Google taking a stand, instead of Google letting the judge make a stand first with a final ruling. He's probably guilty - which is what leads to emotional decisions like this, but I don't think you fully appreciate the glide path here. Are the commercial employees of Goo
      • I, too, am not a firm believer in on-line anonymity: I think on balance it does more harm than good today, as cases like this illustrate. While I do understand that some people have a principled objection to compromising it, I take a pragmatic view on this one.

        However, that doesn't mean just anyone should have access to just anything. We have judicial systems precisely to ensure that where any individual rights must be overridden in the interests of justice, it is done in a controlled way and with due pro

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by e-scetic (1003976) *

        tell me when "the right to privacy" became a right to injure others anonymously - safe from any consequences.

        This post offends my sensibilities. Can we have your real name, please.

        Thank you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HiThere (15173)
        It's a sticky problem.

        This sounds, from a distance, like a case where Google made the correct decision, but...

        Who gets to define "criminal"? How is this different from turning over the id of a Chinese journalist?

        When powerful people get to define what is a crime, then I'm not easy about "criminal" being used as a justifier for the breaking of confidentiality.

        • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rmerry72 (934528) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @10:42PM (#21500473) Homepage

          Who gets to define "criminal"?

          The government. Any and all governments. Each individual government in each individual jurisdication where that government holds power. Even governments we view as being corrupt or morally reprehensible to the determent of their own people.

          How is this different from turning over the id of a Chinese journalist?

          Google was ordered to by the legal court in the country. Google was not ordered so in this case. There was no court order, merely a preliminary ruling. Different country, different law.

          When powerful people get to define what is a crime, then I'm not easy about "criminal" being used as a justifier for the breaking of confidentiality.

          Tough. Criminals have few rights, in some countries less than others. Rights to a "fair trial" or "innocent until proven guilty" are all at the discretion of the ruling power in the land - whichever land that may be - and often on a case by case basis. And yes, some governments define almost everybody as a criminal and then apply whatever punishment they want.

          That's life. Reality bites. Has been for all civilisations for all time, including the one you live in and the one I live in now.

          And no, you shouldn't feel comfortable about it, but then there is nothing you can do to change it. Just avoid getting caught in those countries by those governments.

    • To use a Pratchettism, Google promises not to provide anyone with user's private data based upon the general understanding that no one will actually ask them.

      It is a promise in software circles, and everyone who's really in the know regarding search understands this.

      Obviously things have to be different if someone actually asks them. How can google be expected to keep data private if they're asked for it? Aren't they in the business of providing people with information?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wikinerd (809585)

      Perhaps Google cares about its users as a whole but not as individuals.

      Which actually makes sense for them if we assume that they are in business for the money and that if users as a whole leave then they will lose ad revenue, but an individual alone has little effect on their balance sheet. Is Google in only for the money? I don't know... but most businesses are because they are composed of many different individuals each one having different ideas about ethics, thus causing the business as a whole to act on more-or-less universally accepted goals, and this is usually prof

  • by Anonymous Coward
    FTA:

    Quote: "The notice would invite the blogger to disclose his identity, participate in the hearing, or oppose the disclosure of his identity by filing a motion as "anonymous"."
    End Quote

    Hey after all he was warned. "...the Israeli blogger who used "Google Blogger" for a blog in which he slandered Shaarei Tikva council members running for reelection. ..." In a free democracy, he should have know better than to slander someone in Israel, guess he should have used the Arab Media.
  • by hax0r_this (1073148) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @07:10PM (#21498633)
    I'm not sure that I fully understand the situation, but if Google had waited until the final ruling to release the IP would that have actually prevented the blogger in question from fighting the ruling? If that is the case then short of simply defying a court order (which is something that should be considered on a case by case basis) this would seem to have been the best thing Google could have done. Had they waited they would have been allowing the plaintiff to "pull an RIAA" on the guy (or girl). If, on the other hand, that is not the case then shame on Google (a bit anyway - I still think Yahoo's games with the guy in China were much worse, but that doesn't excuse this).
  • How Can You (Score:5, Funny)

    by Trailwalker (648636) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @07:12PM (#21498659)
    Slander a politician? Did he accuse them of honesty?
  • What the hell... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by davidsyes (765062)
    Have any of you considered that the Mossad has plants working AT Google, and that (like other countries with plants working in key or security-critical employers-- civil or private) that plant's duty was to monitor, collect, report on, sanitize, and enable the use of it for government purposes, whether to bring charges against someone or to slander someone?

    Most of the comments so far (among the 1st 15) make it seem like Google is slipping into the hells. It very well could be that MOD/Israel contacted Googl
    • Have any of you considered that the Mossad has plants working AT Google

      Of course, when you realize that every single Israeli citizen old enough to serve is drafted into the military and is in the active reserves for the remaining time, you should no longer be surprised to have employed a member of the Mossad. You should expect it to happen.

      However, the likelihood of the Mossad working on a low-level Internet slander case is one I'll leave up for debate.
    • by megaditto (982598)
      You are just paranoid. Precious tools like spies, nukes, or torture are only used when the National Security or large sums of money are involved.

      And since Israel is not stupid enough to give up a valuable asset for a simple libel investigation, it's was really up to Google to spill the beans on the guy.
    • by svunt (916464)
      How the hell is this marked insightful? I've never seen anything so patently drooling-on-your-shirt crazy getting modded UP. Dude, have you ANY IDEA how hard it is to get a job at Google? How big do you figure Google Israel's offices are, exactly? Why do I get the feeling you talk a lot about "international bankers" and such?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by c6gunner (950153)

        How the hell is this marked insightful? I've never seen anything so patently drooling-on-your-shirt crazy getting modded UP.

        Have any of you considered that the PLO has plants working AT Slashdot, and that (like other countries with plants working in key or security-critical employers-- civil or private) that plant's duty is to mod up comments which blame the Mossad?

        Ok, no, seriously, there's some really nutty people running around on slashdot :p

  • Keep in mind (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moogied (1175879)
    This is Isreal, not America. Its laws and enviroment is Different. This also was not a google CEO choice, it was probably some middle manager in Isreal.
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      The idea that Israel has different definitions of Evil can be debated, but the excuse that it wasn't the CEO, but some middle manager that did the deed is simply not an acceptable excuse. Businesses use that excuse all the time, and it is utter bullshit. If you are a business, you are responsible for the actions that your employees take through the authority that you give them. We know that it is a common practice for businesses to tell "middle managers" that they just need to get something done, knowing
  • by Jimmy_B (129296) <slashdot @ j i m r a n domh.org> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @07:24PM (#21498803) Homepage
    According to the article, Google released the blogger's identity when he failed to respond within 72 hours. That is MUCH too fast. Even if he dropped what he was doing and acted immediately, it would still take longer than that to figure out what's going on, get a lawyer, and draft a response. That's ignoring the fact that he probably didn't receive the message immediately (subtract 24 hours), probably had other things on his plate (subtract another 24 hours) and may not have even realized that the notice was legit. (An e-mail is not a legitimate court summon. If you receive one which claims to be, it is probably a scam.)
    • by zuvembi (30889)
      Or what if he's on vacation? Going to visit your mother for a weekend visit [1] and maybe don't check all your email accounts? If he's been doing it for a year, what was the big rush?

      [1] I'm assuming unlike the rest of the Slashdot audience he doesn't live in her basement.
  • by king-manic (409855) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @07:27PM (#21498845)
    Google: would require a court order to give the IP. negotiated a weak compromise. handed over IP.

    Comcast: Would give the IP without a court order, offer to enable electronic wiretaps, and give full logs of everything that IP did.

    Apple: Would require a court order to give IP. Negotiate a weak compromise. Hand over the IP on a sleek and stylish apple brand flash drive.

    Microsoft:

    It appears you are trying to arrest an anonymous person. Would you like me to:

    *Find their unique CPU ID?

    *Transmit contents of their hard drive?

    *Enable back door key logger?

    *Contact Microsoft Sales representative for more options?

  • Easy solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by matt me (850665) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @07:44PM (#21499009)
    Google wouldn't be able to do such evil if it only stored the IP addresses of its users for immediate necessary use, and discarded them. Keeping data indefinitely, such that they can be reinterpreted and abused in ways unimaginable at the time , makes such problems as these likely.
  • I doubt it...likely a local decision made at the local office in Israel. No doubt this Google manager is in for a shitstorm from the Mother Ship.
  • This isn't like George Bush and the NSA doing an end-run around the Constitution, or Communist China. This was a legitimate judicial proceeding in a multi-party country that observes due process of law. The anonymity of the Internet is not a free pass to commit slander. Either defend your words or shut up.
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @08:09PM (#21499273) Homepage

    Fact: someone who's been wronged has a right to pursue the person responsible. No argument there. The fact that the person responsible is attempting to hide his identity doesn't change that. The problem with the RIAA's tactics is that they want the identity before proving they've been wronged. In this case the councilmen did the right thing: went into court, convinced a judge that the words as written did in fact qualify as something legally actionable, then asked for the identity of the responsible party. It might be technically more correct to wait until a final ruling, but I doubt the final ruling would be significantly different from the preliminary one. Judges don't just fire from the hip when making a preliminary ruling, it's more like "This will be how I rule, unless someone fairly quickly comes up with something that hasn't been even hinted at yet that's major enough to counter everything I've seen so far.".

    Sorry, guys, but contrary to popular belief the right to remain anonymous is not a shield against being held responsible for your statements and actions. It just means that the other party should have to prove that your statements or actions were in fact legally actionable before stripping you of your anonymity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eh2o (471262)
      The plantiffs asked the court to mandate that Google hand over the IP. Then Google agreed to an out-of-court "settlement" where they provided the IP directly to the plantiff, based on a "hint" (TFA's words) from the judge that it was OK to do so.

      Now it seems likely that this was going to happen eventually, but why the rush? This blogger had been at it for an entire *year* already, and suddenly it becomes a 72-hour emergency? That makes no sense. Why not wait for the mandate and do the thing that is *tec
  • This is about some asshole thinking they can just slander anyone online and not have to own up to it.

    privacy isn't a platform you can use to attack other people.

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