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We might not be as anonymous as we hope .....

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/goog...us-blogger.html

A US court has ordered Google to hand over the identity of a blogger who used her website to defame Liskula Cohen, a former Vogue cover girl. What does the ruling mean for the blogosphere?

Liskula Cohen, a 37-year-old model, was called a “psychotic, lying, whoring...skank†by the blogger. Cohen needed to know the true identity of the blogger in order to sue her for defamation.

The ruling has divided the blogosphere, with some applauding the decision, and others fearing it could be the thin end of the wedge, setting a dangerous precedent that will enable companies, organisations and individuals to demand the unmasking of any internet commentator they take a dislike to.

The reality, of course, is somewhere in between. There can be little doubt that, over the years, many blogs have used the cloak of anonymity afforded by the web to stir up hatred, resentment and sometimes even fear in the blogosphere, launching deeply personal and threatening attacks on people with little danger of their vitriol and abuse being traced back to their door.

“The rules for defamation on the web — for actual reality as well as virtual reality — are the same. The internet is not a free-for-all,†said Cohen’s lawyer after the case.

Technology blogger Kathy Sierra famously called on the web community to take a stand against “trolling†and abusive comments. She made the move after receiving dozens of death threats through her website. Horrified and outraged, she suspended her blog, and started a debate about whether a “bloggers’ code†needed to be drawn up in order to regulate the behaviour of posters and commentators online.

In circumstances such as that, when someone is in genuine fear for their life or safety because of something that has been said online, it’s hard to argue against naming and shaming those responsible. After all, you would not be able to get away with such attacks in real life; nor should you in cyberspace.

The difficulty comes, of course, with blogs that are merely controversial rather than out-and-out defamatory or threatening. The anonymity that allows cowards to mete out insults and hide behind an avatar is also used by those seeking to expose the reality of life inside a brutal regime, or simply to give an insight in to an organisation or service that impacts other people.

Take, for example, Random Acts of Reality, a blog that charts the work of a paramedic in the London Ambulance Service. Many of the opinions expressed within the blog could be considered controversial, but it would be hard to argue that the blogger’s identity should be revealed; simply exposing something to scrutiny by providing an insight in to its workings is rarely defamatory, or grounds for impinging on freedom of speech.

Likewise, the anonymity of bloggers is crucial, particularly in oppressive regimes. During the disputed Iranian elections, blogs and social media sites allowed people to provide an unsanitised account of what was really happening inside their country’s borders; revealing that blogger’s true identity at the behest of an embarrassed or angry government would deal a grave blow to healthy dissent.

In truth, this ruling simply serves to underscore that real world rules apply as much online as they do in the street, in the workplace, or in school.

The majority of bloggers, no matter how controversial the topic of their blog might be, have little to fear from this court case. It’s the trouble-makers and trolls who need to think hard before hitting publish on their next post.

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The state retains control. We really are in an Orwellian society - people who deny it are putting their heads in the sand.

A few years ago when I first started getting into reading the conspiracy websites and looked into the controls being brought in to the new electronic database driven world, I was considered a wee bit paranoid.

Now it's happened, and even staunch "police state deniers" are now seeing it affect their lives.

All our web history is logged, they can "legally" hack our PC's and monitor communications routinely. Does this not sound more like a socialist state than a democratic one? I see that I have made a mistake there by equating democracy with freedom. NLP from the state at it's finest. We are free to choose whichever totalitarian regime we want.

I wanted to start a blog a few years back to show the public what really happens in my profession but when analysing the logical path for expansion of state control of the web, decided not to. I am glad now, although I regret not having the balls to do it as I now have a family to provide for.

TFH (a very TFH post as well :lol: )

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The state retains control. We really are in an Orwellian society - people who deny it are putting their heads in the sand.

A few years ago when I first started getting into reading the conspiracy websites and looked into the controls being brought in to the new electronic database driven world, I was considered a wee bit paranoid.

Now it's happened, and even staunch "police state deniers" are now seeing it affect their lives.

All our web history is logged, they can "legally" hack our PC's and monitor communications routinely. Does this not sound more like a socialist state than a democratic one? I see that I have made a mistake there by equating democracy with freedom. NLP from the state at it's finest. We are free to choose whichever totalitarian regime we want.

I wanted to start a blog a few years back to show the public what really happens in my profession but when analysing the logical path for expansion of state control of the web, decided not to. I am glad now, although I regret not having the balls to do it as I now have a family to provide for.

TFH (a very TFH post as well :lol: )

perhaps , I used to admire an old blogger who blogged well before it became popular the anonymous accountant who worked for a big 4 firm, the question is who uses their real name anyway? , in that I have numerous web handles , I've been updating various blogs of sorts via internet cafes in countries I wasn't supposed to be in (and thus there was no record of my entry or exit). How do they know its me? , the hostel owner here hasn't asked for any identification and the korean immigration dept didn't scan my passport or take a photo of it (russians do) they just looked bored and stuck a stamp in it and let me on my merry way (this was on a flat desk in my plain sight).

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The state retains control. We really are in an Orwellian society - people who deny it are putting their heads in the sand.

I presume you would have the same stance about blanket anonymity if the comments were directed at your mum / sister / wife etc ?

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I presume you would have the same stance about blanket anonymity if the comments were directed at your mum / sister / wife etc ?

Sure just grow a thicker skin , cripes does nobody remember the old rhyme sticks and stones my break my bones but words will never hurt me?...

Much like Jeremy Clarkson when he got pied in the face , he responded with good shot!, while somebody cobbed an egg at prescott and was punched in the face.

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I know this article is controversial, but I just have to take issue with the points raised because the author has got this so wrong.

A US court has ordered Google to hand over the identity of a blogger who used her website to defame Liskula Cohen, a former Vogue cover girl. What does the ruling mean for the blogosphere?

Liskula Cohen, a 37-year-old model, was called a “psychotic, lying, whoring...skank†by the blogger. Cohen needed to know the true identity of the blogger in order to sue her for defamation.

The ruling has divided the blogosphere, with some applauding the decision, and others fearing it could be the thin end of the wedge, setting a dangerous precedent that will enable companies, organisations and individuals to demand the unmasking of any internet commentator they take a dislike to.

The reality, of course, is somewhere in between. There can be little doubt that, over the years, many blogs have used the cloak of anonymity afforded by the web to stir up hatred, resentment and sometimes even fear in the blogosphere, launching deeply personal and threatening attacks on people with little danger of their vitriol and abuse being traced back to their door.

“The rules for defamation on the web — for actual reality as well as virtual reality — are the same. The internet is not a free-for-all,†said Cohen’s lawyer after the case.

Hang on, what if that blog post was grafitti on a awll somewhere? Would the writer be obliged to sign and date it with their real name?

Technology blogger Kathy Sierra famously called on the web community to take a stand against “trolling†and abusive comments. She made the move after receiving dozens of death threats through her website. Horrified and outraged, she suspended her blog, and started a debate about whether a “bloggers’ code†needed to be drawn up in order to regulate the behaviour of posters and commentators online.

That's not a bloggers code, that's a 'Dealing with Kathy Sierra Code'. She's deliberately confusing the two.

In circumstances such as that, when someone is in genuine fear for their life or safety because of something that has been said online, it’s hard to argue against naming and shaming those responsible. After all, you would not be able to get away with such attacks in real life; nor should you in cyberspace.

WRONG. If you saw a death threat as a piece of grafitti, the police would not likely investigate, but would monitor the situation. The only reason blogs are being treated differently is because the writer can be traced more easily from a technical point of view.

The difficulty comes, of course, with blogs that are merely controversial rather than out-and-out defamatory or threatening. The anonymity that allows cowards to mete out insults and hide behind an avatar is also used by those seeking to expose the reality of life inside a brutal regime, or simply to give an insight in to an organisation or service that impacts other people.

Take, for example, Random Acts of Reality, a blog that charts the work of a paramedic in the London Ambulance Service. Many of the opinions expressed within the blog could be considered controversial, but it would be hard to argue that the blogger’s identity should be revealed; simply exposing something to scrutiny by providing an insight in to its workings is rarely defamatory, or grounds for impinging on freedom of speech.

Likewise, the anonymity of bloggers is crucial, particularly in oppressive regimes. During the disputed Iranian elections, blogs and social media sites allowed people to provide an unsanitised account of what was really happening inside their country’s borders; revealing that blogger’s true identity at the behest of an embarrassed or angry government would deal a grave blow to healthy dissent.

But hang on, using the argument the article has just put forward, governments such as Iran's could legitimately ask for the bloggers' identities on the basis that they were being seditious and threatening terrorism.

In truth, this ruling simply serves to underscore that real world rules apply as much online as they do in the street, in the workplace, or in school.

WRONG. If real world rules are to apply to the virtual world, blogger should be allowed MORE not less anonymity. If flyposting pictures of Obama as a clown can be done anonymously, why not blog posting?

The majority of bloggers, no matter how controversial the topic of their blog might be, have little to fear from this court case. It’s the trouble-makers and trolls who need to think hard before hitting publish on their next post.

And who defines 'trouble-makers' and trolls?

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And who defines 'trouble-makers' and trolls?

Big corporations and their shareholders, and governments , hence bloggers who are politically controversial and even journalists have to be careful, and get into the public eye else the government will attempt to murder you...

Remember Andrew Gilligan , where the government issued a press release for the BBC propaganda machine saying that he was suicidal and depressed. If gilligan hadn't refuted this propaganda he'd have been Kelly'd ie found dead in the woods.

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The state retains control. We really are in an Orwellian society - people who deny it are putting their heads in the sand.

A few years ago when I first started getting into reading the conspiracy websites and looked into the controls being brought in to the new electronic database driven world, I was considered a wee bit paranoid.

Now it's happened, and even staunch "police state deniers" are now seeing it affect their lives.

All our web history is logged, they can "legally" hack our PC's and monitor communications routinely. Does this not sound more like a socialist state than a democratic one? I see that I have made a mistake there by equating democracy with freedom. NLP from the state at it's finest. We are free to choose whichever totalitarian regime we want.

I wanted to start a blog a few years back to show the public what really happens in my profession but when analysing the logical path for expansion of state control of the web, decided not to. I am glad now, although I regret not having the balls to do it as I now have a family to provide for.

TFH (a very TFH post as well :lol: )

I don't care if I am thought of as a tin foil hat wearer. I am a graduate engineer and I believe that 911 and 7/7 and Madrid etc were all inside jobs.

My concern therefore is for political conspiracy blogs by the likes of Stef Zucconi, and I suspect that is the real reason for this development. They, the powers that be, want to silence dissenting voices on the web.

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Big corporations and their shareholders, and governments , hence bloggers who are politically controversial and even journalists have to be careful, and get into the public eye else the government will attempt to murder you...

Remember Andrew Gilligan , where the government issued a press release for the BBC propaganda machine saying that he was suicidal and depressed. If gilligan hadn't refuted this propaganda he'd have been Kelly'd ie found dead in the woods.

Have you got a link to the BBC saying that? I'd be very interested.

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Why dont they sue the daily mail? One day its basically saying Kerry Katona/Lilly Allen/Amy Winehouse is some smackhead whore, the next they say their right as rain, a model for us all to follow.

Methinks its because they get paid off. This money grabbing bint is just upset she isnt getting a bit of the cake.

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I presume you would have the same stance about blanket anonymity if the comments were directed at your mum / sister / wife etc ?

Well no I wouldn't because I never believed blogs to be anonymous. I don't think google or whoever offered anonymity when they started up, and now with the laws requiring data retention etc in place then they couldn't be anonymous even if they wanted to.

Even supposed non-tracking search engines all have disclaimers to say the data will be turned over if requested by the courts.

I guess my point is that there is no such thing as anonymity or privacy on the web, and snooping has been legitimised.

TFH

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Likewise, the anonymity of bloggers is crucial, particularly in oppressive regimes. During the disputed Iranian elections, blogs and social media sites allowed people to provide an unsanitised account of what was really happening inside their country’s borders; revealing that blogger’s true identity at the behest of an embarrassed or angry government would deal a grave blow to healthy dissent.

Yeah, but who decides what is "healthy dissent" - the Zionist, neo-liberal corporate f**kbags who run the show?

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All our web history is logged, they can "legally" hack our PC's and monitor communications routinely. Does this not sound more like a socialist state than a democratic one? I see that I have made a mistake there by equating democracy with freedom. NLP from the state at it's finest. We are free to choose whichever totalitarian regime we want.

Like I have said before on here, people should boycott the main parties; they are so similar now, it is just like a change in guard. There are other smaller parties trying to enact real change, but while people consider them a wasted vote, we will be stuck with the main two parties.

I am not excited, nor expect much change if/when a Tory government gets in. Once you adopt this principle, you are free to vote for a party which genuinely represents the majority of your views.

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Guest UK Debt Slave

We might not be as anonymous as we hope .....

The thin end of the wedge I'm afraid

Bit like the police being able to enforce on the spot fines on people. Once they have that kind of power, it is absolutely certain it will be abused.

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Do you think people should be allowed to start up a blog and post endless defamatory comments about an individual? I think this is a good move. Having read some of the posts it is undeniably rude. Would you mind if it was about you? It is easy to imagine people writing fabricated nasty things that could insight wider hatred against individuals.

That said, I don't think people should get silly about all this, forums (even this one gasp!) often have quite rude comments but most of us except it's all part of the "fun" - if it bothers you, don't post here! However, setting up a site just to destroy someone's reputation is very different and I think there should be avenues to address this.

In the UK publishers are jointly responsible, about 10 seconds of clicking on this forum leads to defamatory comments that I'm sure opens the owners up to being sued. But I hope it doesn't go too crazy, once you apply some common sense only the most serious cases should be processed imo.

Be nice to each other :)!

Edited by Orbital

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If you seriously wanted to publish some stuff that you knew would likely cause the company or individual you were criticising to try to shut you up, all you would need to do is to post it all from internet cafes and from a notebook using public wifi from any number of coffee shops, airports, etc etc.

Or, if you were really feeling mean, just drive around residential streets looking for unsecured wireless broadbands in people's houses and use those.

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If you seriously wanted to publish some stuff that you knew would likely cause the company or individual you were criticising to try to shut you up, all you would need to do is to post it all from internet cafes and from a notebook using public wifi from any number of coffee shops, airports, etc etc.

Or, if you were really feeling mean, just drive around residential streets looking for unsecured wireless broadbands in people's houses and use those.

is that what you do Kingsgate, you nasty lil' Nazi? ;)

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is that what you do Kingsgate, you nasty lil' Nazi? ;)

I've never wanted to set up a blog, let alone one in which I defame anyone.

I'm just pointing out that all of these press stories announcing the "death of anonymity" are not strictly correct.

If someone wanted to post controversial stuff without leaving an easy "trail" back to their own home, it is quite easy to do.

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I'm afraid the general reaction here is all too predictable, and as usual, people have jumped from the specific (alleged) slandering of a well known individual, to blanket Armageddon scenarios of the state shining a torch into our closets.

I'm broadly sympathetic to the idea that the powers of the state should be reined in. But please, if you set up a blog and are openly (allegedly) defamatory, you should be as accountable as you would be if you published that allegation in a book or newspaper. We don't complain about the right of a person to seek redress if they feel they are libelled in print, so why on the web? I can only guess that we are all quaking in our boots here a little, as so many of us have got used to the power of perceived anonymity.

People have been rude and abusive to me on forums, knowing damn well that they wouldn't have the balls to say it to my face. Well tough. If you want to publish highly abusive statements about an individual, at least have the moral strength to be accountable. If the injured party can't demonstrate that you are lying/defamatory then you're in the clear.

As someone said, when I set up my blog(s), I don't get an undertaking from Google et al that I can say what I want and they will protect my identity. Indeed, they say the opposite. We may one day be glad of this ruling. It protects you more than it attacks you -- unless of course you're on the web to try to destroy people. If you are, tough sh1t. People will treat you the way you behave.

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There was an interesting news feature about internet use in Italy, where the cyberstructure lags behind the rest of Europe -especailly broadband. The theory is that this is because PM Berlusconi owns much of the established media and so is in no hurry to help the spread of cyberspace.

But also in Italy the feature alluded to a possible plan to make it compulsory to enable peoples' real identities to be traceable on internet sites. If that happened here, that would be the end of HPC, among many other sites!

Edited by blankster

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