Google Must Reveal Cyberbully's Identity, New York Judge Says
In the court filing, Franklin's lawyer, David Fish, asserted that the posted comments "were made with the intention to harm Ms. Franklin's reputation and interfere with her relationships, employment and livelihood." Franklin, who graduated last year with an MBA from Columbia Business School, is now working as a business consultant. While at Columbia, she filmed a series of short clips for the university, in which she offered guidance and advice to other students. One such video was subsequently uploaded to YouTube, where a rogue user posted inexplicably obscene comments -- including one that called Franklin a "whore."
Once the prosecution identifies the true identity of the YouTube user, Fish says, Franklin will slap him with a lawsuit for "personal humiliation, mental anguish and damage to her reputation." Perhaps more important than the identity of the user, however, is the legal precedent that the judge's decision could set. As The Next Web observes, this may very well be the first time that a court has ordered YouTube to unmask one of its users because of legally nebulous comments -- and it probably won't be the last. This is hardly new ground for Google, though. Last year, because of the threat of a potential defamation suit, Google was forced to reveal the identity of anonymous blogger Rosemary Port, who ran the 'Skanks in NYC' blog.
Franklin, after all, has every legal right to protect her name and reputation. She should at least be allowed to confirm the identity of her target before using her own resources (and the court's time) to pursue a lawsuit. If this commenter was using YouTube to post threats or child pornography, for example, a federal judge wouldn't think twice about forcing the website's hand. Why should a defamation lawsuit be any different?