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'Skanks' Blogger Sues Google for $15M for Divulging Identity

Last week, the notoriously anonymous 'Skanks in NYC' blogger was facing a potential defamation lawsuit by model Liksula Gentile Cohen, who had been negatively characterized in the blog. This week, that same blogger, who has since been identified as 27-year-old fashion student Rosemary Port, is filing a lawsuit of her own. According to ZDNet, she has decided to sue Google for revealing her identity to Cohen, and thus the world. She and attorney Salvatore Strazzullo are suing for $15 million.

"This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing," Port told the New York Daily News. Speaking of Cohen, Port continued, "By going to the press, she defamed herself... I feel my right to privacy has been violated."

Port's charges require some context. Last Monday, in the interest of pursuing a defamation suit, Cohen requested that a Manhattan Supreme Court judge subpoena Google for the identity of the 'Skanks in NYC' blogger. The judge did that very thing, and as was its legal obligation, Google obliged, identifying Port to the authorities and Cohen's lawyers. When she discovered the blogger to be none other than Port, whom she had known for some time, Cohen began to have doubts about the suit. Still, before Port had been publicly identified, Cohen told Diane Sawyer about the blogger, "[If] I've ever done anything to you to actually deserve this then I'm really very sorry." Some time over the past week, according to the Daily News, Cohen has apparently told her lawyer that she no longer wants to sue Port.

In light of all this, Port's claims strike us as frivolous at best, and boldly ignorant at worst. Since Google was subpoenaed to divulge her identity, and fulfilled its legal obligation by doing so, we don't see any wrongdoing there. While we'll concede that Cohen's legal action did bring the public's attention to the blog, we don't see how that would lend any viability to Port's case.

First, Port's claims that Cohen "defamed herself" are ludicrous. Although precedents pertaining to libel do treat public and private figures differently, we wouldn't imagine any judge would give the stamp of approval to somebody calling somebody else "a psychotic whore" (as Port did to Cohen). Secondly, and more importantly, Cohen's behavior strikes us as having absolutely no bearing on Port's case. After all, Port is suing Google, not Cohen.

But don't take our word for it. We're not lawyers.

ZDNet's Richard Kofman is, though. Responding to Port's claim that Google "[breached] its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity," he makes what seems to be a strong point:

"That strikes me as nonsensical concept: the fiduciary relationship is the highest, most stringent duty one can have to another, typically the directors [sic] duty to shareholders, or a trustee's duty to beneficiaries. To create such a relationship between a company and someone who creates a free blogging account makes a mockery of the relationship. And what is the duty to protect anonymity? That is definitely not listed in the treatises' lists of fiduciary duties."

Stay posted as this story develops. Its implications with regards to Constitutional law are far too riveting to ignore. [From: ZDNet and New York Daily News]

Tags: blogger, defamation, google, libel, skanks in nyc, SkanksInNyc, top



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