A model named Liskula Cohen was being attacked on a blog called Skanks in NYC. The author of the Skanks blog was anonymous. Kashmir Hill reports:
Cohen started pursuing the defamation suit against the anonymous ‘Skanks’ blogger in January after discovering the site, on which the blogger called Cohen a skank, a ho, and an old hag, among other nasty things, and posted photos of her, taken from various websites. Since Cohen needed the identity of the blogger in order to file the lawsuit against her, a judge in Manhattan granted Cohen’s request to force Google to reveal the e-mail address and IP address of the alleged defamer.
Cohen has since dropped her $3 million lawsuit. The unmasked blogger — Rosemary Port — plans to sue Google for $15 million for breaching its fiduciary duty to defend her anonymity.
Over at CyberSLAPP, a website maintained by EFF (disclosure: I’m on EFF’s advisory board), ACLU, CDT, EPIC, and Public Citizen, they have posted documents from the case, including the court’s order to Google to unmask the author of Skanks.
CyberSLAPP seeks to combat frivolous lawsuits to reveal another’s identity:
CyberSLAPP cases typically involve a person who has posted anonymous criticisms of a corporation or public figure on the Internet. The target of the criticism then files a frivolous lawsuit just so they can issue a subpoena to the Web site or Internet Service Provider (ISP) involved, discover the identity of their anonymous critic, and intimidate or silence them.
The Skanks in NYC raises a lot of interesting issues. I’ll tackle a few in this post.
1.Was Cohen’s lawsuit frivolous? Cohen might have a decent defamation lawsuit, but she subsequently dropped it when she found out Cohen’s identity. This behavior indicates she was using the lawsuit only to unmask the blogger. I agree with CyberSLAPP that such a practice should be restricted.