internet has been a refuge of sorts for people to post anonymously online, but
in the very near future this may no longer be the case.
A new court ruling could change the face of the internet as we know it, thanks
to an online harassment case involving Google, YouTube and New York business consultant and
former model Carla Franklin.
Franklin was interviewing for a job last year when someone posted an
unauthorized student video on YouTube featuring the Columbia Business School
graduate. A user wrote degrading remarks next to the clips on the
In August, Franklin filed a legal request that Google, the owners of YouTube,
reveal the identities of the parties involved with posting the clips and
Franklin said she isn't looking for money or attention, she only hopes to
expose her online harassers.
"The Internet cannot become a haven for harassers and criminals. It just
can't," she said. "This is not about me trampling on anyone's First
Amendment rights. Speak freely -- just show who you are. And if you're going to
commit a crime, and harassment and defamation are crimes, then show
It appears that in this online face-off, Franklin may have the last word. This
week a Manhattan judge ordered Google to reveal the
identity and contact information of those responsible.
The Mountain View, California-based company must give Franklin the IP (Internet
protocol) addresses, e-mail addresses, and other information of those responsible for the harassment
within fifteen days.
"I'm so happy I'm finally going to be moving forward uncovering this
person," said Franklin. "I feel so victorious. … It's definitely a
weight lifted off of my shoulders. It's also a positive thing, in that people
going through this type of defamation look at my case and they know, 'Wow, I
can do this too.'"
According to Bennet G. Kelley, a specialist
internet lawyer, while there is a First Amendment right to be able to speak
anonymously, there is no First Amendment right to violate the law.
"People think: 'It's the Internet. I can do whatever I want.' But the law
applies, online and offline," said Kelley.
Franklin plans to use an investigator to track down her online attackers. The
video and the comments have since been removed from YouTube.
So far, there has been no comment from Google.
quote: Then don't break any laws when anonymous.
quote: She says that the posting could be harmful to her job prospects.
quote: the law doesn't exist to protect your feelings,
quote: anonymity is important because it enables free speech, if all i want to do is columnify somebody, that should be protected too.
quote: are you saying that they ought not to be held liable and that media ought to have freedom to say nasty things about folks regardless of the truth?
quote: What you're asking for is to give everyone free reign to be as irresponsible as they like with no consequences. No one ever promised freedom from the consequences of your actions.
quote: I don't believe there is anything about right to anonymity anywhere. Right to free speech yes, anonymity, no.
quote: The Mountain View, California-based company must give Franklin the IP (Internet protocol) addresses, e-mail addresses, and other information of those responsible for the harassment within fifteen days.
quote: Who's to say what's proper/improper?
quote: w h o r e