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Google gives up the identities of bloggers who accused Orthodox Jewish rabbi of having affairs

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By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

February 9, 2013 | 2 min read

Google has lost a High Court ruling, meaning it must hand over the identities of anonymous bloggers who accused an Orthodox Jewish rabbi of having extramarital affairs.

Rabbi Halpern took legal action after bloggers, including one using the pseudonym “Ifyoutickleus”, posted comments on a Google-hosted blog about him having affairs. They wrote “that he is somebody who conducts extramarital affairs, though not on a scale of Ryan Giggs”.

However, Google was not represented in court and did not resist the rabbi’s application, leading many campaigners to once again question its stance on internet privacy and private data.

Rabbi Halpern’s barrister, Chloe Strong, said Google had remained neutral in relation to the application for the identities to be revealed and, while it did not consent to it, neither did it oppose.

Google was asked to “disclose the registered name, address or IP address in their possession in respect of the blogger Ifyoutickleus”, as well as those of the other individuals complained of who made comments about the rabbi.

Justice Gloster went on to add that in her mind people making defamatory commented on the internet should not be protected by annonimity. She said: “I take the view that if people are making what appear to be prima facie defamatory comments, they should not be protected by the cloak of anonymity.

“Though of course the protection of freedom of speech is very important, people who make weasely comments online in circumstances such as this should not be allowed to hide behind the shield of anonymity.”

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