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Court Protects Blogger's Anonymity

The The New York Law Journal reports today that a New York court has refused a petitioner's request to force Google to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger. The petitioner, Pamela Greenbaum, a school board member in Lawrence, N.Y., brought a pre-action discovery proceeding seeking to force Google to disclose the author of the blog Orthomom, which Google hosts on its Blogger service. The blog, which covers local issues in the Lawrence area as well as issues relating to Orthodox Judaism, criticized Greenbaum for her opposition to the use of public-school funds for private-school students. In one post alleged to be defamatory, the blogger wrote, "Way [for Greenbaum] to make it clear that you have no interest in helping the private school community."

In a decision issued Oct. 23, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Marcy Friedman concluded that Greenbaum had not shown that she has a meritorious claim for defamation and therefore is not entitled to disclosure of the blogger's identity. Friedman wrote:

[T]he court ... finds that Orthomom's statements are not reasonably susceptible of a defamatory connotation. Greenbaum's defamation claim against Orthomom reduces to the insupportable assertion that Orthomom implied that Greenbaum is an anti-semite merely because Orthomom disagreed with Greenbaum's position on the use of public funding for a program that could have affected the Orthodox Jewish community.

Because the blogger was expressing her opinion about a fact that was not in dispute, her statement was protected by the First Amendment, the judge said.

One of Orthomom's lawyers, Paul Alan Levy of the Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen Litigation Group, told the New York Law Journal: "It's clear that the judge in this case relied on the evidence before her. A person doesn't get to identify the alleged wrongdoer without some evidence [of wrongdoing]."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 13, 2007 at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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