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Be warned - websites can be forced to reveal your identity

August 19 2009 at 2:03 PM

Model forces Google to reveal 'skank' blogger's identity
Asher Moses
August 19, 2009 - 1:50PM

A former Vogue Australia cover girl has won a landmark court battle to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger who called her a "skank" and an "old hag".

Model Liskula Cohen sued Google in January in the hope of forcing the company to reveal the person responsible for allegedly defamatory comments on a blog called Skanks in NYC, which was hosted by Google's Blogger service.

"I would have to say the first-place award for 'Skankiest in NYC' would have to go to Liskula Gentile Cohen," the anonymous blogger wrote.

"How old is this skank? 40 something? She's a psychotic, lying, whoring, still going to clubs at her age, skank."

Cohen, who is actually 37, believed the posts were defamatory but was forced to take action against Google in order to unmask the blogger's identity before she could take further action.

On Monday in the US, Judge Joan Madden ruled that Cohen was entitled to sue the blogger for defamation and, in an unprecedented move, forced Google to provide the blogger's name.

The name will presumably be revealed in court. It is unclear when the matter will return to court.

The tall, blonde Canadian, who is based in New York, has modelled for Giorgio Armani and Versace and appeared on the cover of the Australian edition of Vogue.

But Cohen's modelling career ground to a halt in January 2007 when a man stabbed her in the face with a broken glass, requiring her to get 46 stitches, the New York Post reported.

The man, who was sent to jail, became angry after she objected to him stealing a bottle of vodka from her table.

Judge Madden rejected the claims by the blogger's lawyer that the comments were mere opinion or "trash talk", and that only factual assertions could be considered libellous.

"The thrust of the blog is that the petitioner is a sexually promiscuous woman," Judge Madden wrote in her judgment, noting that the comments were run alongside photos of Cohen in suggestive poses.

The blog, which was shut down in March, was almost entirely devoted to slagging off Cohen. It contained just five entries, all of which were published on August 21 last year.

"I really hope it's not somebody I know," Cohen told the New York Post.

"I'm a human being. I bleed. I have feelings. When I saw that blog, it was awful. All I can say for this person is, I really truly hope that they have more in their life than this."

Cohen's lawyer, Steven Wagner, told reporters that he hoped the decision would send a message that the internet was "not a free-for-all".

Anne Salisbury, the lawyer for the blogger, warned that the ruling would open the "floodgates" for anyone who has been the subject of a nasty comment online to take legal action.

A Google spokeswoman said: "We sympathise with anyone who may be the victim of cyber bullying. We also take great care to respect privacy concerns and will only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or other court order."

In July, a landlord filed a lawsuit against a Chicago woman for writing on Twitter that her apartment was "moldy".

The landlord claimed the tweet damaged the company's reputation, even though the woman had only 20 Twitter followers at the time.
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anonymous forever!

nice try bruce!

August 19 2009, 8:52 PM 

we are really scared bruce.nice try.find our ID.all you will get is a URL...then youll be really disappointed.prick!

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Re: nice try bruce!

August 20 2009, 9:29 AM 

PNGSCAPE is hosted in the US, so presumably the same thing could apply to people making offensive, derogatory and false comments on here. Philma-hater, the whole NIPS crap about Chan, and the NGRA idiot etc etc come to mind.

"A ruling in the New York Supreme Court will allow model Liskula Cohen to find out the identity of an anonymous blogger who posted some of her photos with captions including the words "psychotic," "skank," and "ho." The site was part of Blogger.com, and Google has already complied with a request for the author's IP address and email. "[Cohen's attorney] said that once his legal team tracks the e-mail address to a name, the next step will be to sue Cohen's detractor for defamation. He said he suspected the creator of the blog is an acquaintance of Cohen. The blog has not been operational for months. The unidentified creator of the blog was represented in court by an attorney, Anne Salisbury, who said her client voluntarily took the blog down when Cohen initiated legal action against it. ... the judge quoted a Virginia court that ruled in a similar case that nameless online taunters should be held accountable when their derision crosses a line. 'The protection of the right to communicate anonymously must be balanced against the need to assure that those persons who choose to abuse the opportunities presented by this medium can be made to answer for such transgressions.'"

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