Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) has agreed to supply the IP address of an Israeli blogger who used "Google Blogger" for a blog in which he slandered Shaarei Tikva council members running for reelection. The election is being held today.
The slandered Shaarei Tikva council members asked Google for the blogger's name. They reached a settlement with the company on the basis of an Israeli ruling on the subject. The settlement stipulates that 72 hours before a hearing on the case at the Rishon LeZion Magistrates Court, the council members would leave the blogger a message on his blog summoning him to the hearing, or else his IP address would be handed over. 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".
For more than a year, the anonymous blogger slandered three Shaarei Tikva councilmen: local council chairman Gideon Idan, Shaarei Tikva director general Haim Blumenfeld and council member Avi Yokobovich. The blogger accused the men of criminal acts, such as pretending to be handicapped in order to receive discounts on local property taxes, receiving bribes from a contractor, and having ties to criminal gangs.
The three councilmen filed a NIS 300,000 lawsuit against the blogger, who was named "anonymous" in the statement of claim. They also asked for a court order ordering Google to disclose the blogger's IP address, which would enable the court to contact the blogger's Internet services provider and order it to disclose the blogger's identity.
Google initially said that disclosing the blogger's identity violated rulings on the balance between freedom of expression and a person's right to his reputation.
However, in a pre-ruling, Judge Oren Schwartz said that the blog's content raised suspicions of criminal conduct, and Google took the hint. Judge Schwartz applied the strict position of Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon that the details of a surfer may be disclosed only if the slander was tantamount to criminal defamation.
In line with Judge Schwartz's ruling, Google and the councilmen reached a settlement in their dispute. Following the 72 hour period, Google was ordered to hand over the IP address to the court. Google was represented by Adv. Keren Beer and Adv. Hagit Blaiberg of Goldfarb, Levy, Eran, Meiri & Co. and the councilmen were represented by Adv. Ben Zion Adoram and Tomer Altus of Adoram & Co.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 27, 2007
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