Canadian model unmasks blog tormentor

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 19, 2009 at 7:31 PM EST

A Canadian model has won a landmark case in a New York court after Google was forced to disclose the online identity of a blogger who anonymously posted derogatory comments about the Vogue covergirl.

Justice Joan Madden of the New York State Supreme Court ordered the Web giant on Monday to hand over identifying information about the person who created the anonymous blog a year ago using Google's Blogger.com program.

The ruling came after Liskula Cohen, 36, filed suit in a bid to unmask the identify of her tormentor, who posted suggestive photographs of Cohen on the blog and described her as a "ho" and a "psychotic, lying, whoring... skank."

The blog was removed in March.

But Cohen, who has appeared on runways for top designers around the world and on the covers of numerous fashion magazines, was determined to pursue the case to learn the identity of the blogger.

"If somebody attacks somebody on the street you're not going to let it go," she told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. "If somebody attacks you personally you're not going to let it go.

"Why should I just ignore it? I couldn't find one reason to ignore it," Cohen said. "So I didn't."

Following Madden's ruling, Google turned over the email address and computer IP address of the person behind the blog and that allowed Cohen to immediately figure out who it was.

She told ABC she was relieved to discover that the person who created the blog -- a woman whom she declined to identify -- was not someone close to her.

"She's an irrelevant person in my life," Cohen said. "She's just somebody that, whenever I would go out to a restaurant, to a party in New York City, she was just that girl that was always there."

Cohen said she immediately called the woman on the telephone and told her: "I just want you to know that if I've ever done anything to you to actually deserve this then I'm really very sorry.

"I said, 'I forgive you, it doesn't matter any more.'"

Cohen's lawyer, Steven Wagner, told ABC the case was "sending out a message that the Internet is no longer a safe harbor for defamatory language.

"I don't know if it'll change the Internet," he said. "It'll change the way some people act on the Internet."

Google said that while the company does not tolerate "cyber bullying" it is also respectful of privacy.

"We sympathize with anyone who may be the victim of cyber bullying," Andrew Pederson, a Google spokesman, said in an email statement to AFP.

"We also take great care to respect privacy concerns and will only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or other court order," he said.

"If content is found by a court to be defamatory, we will of course remove it immediately," Pederson added.




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