Google ordered to identify "libellous" bloggers

The Australian courts have dealt a blow to those who think they can post what they like online anonymously.

A South Australian court has ordered Google to reveal to a businessman the identities of anonymous bloggers who he claims have defamed him.

Shane Radbone, who is a former footballer, and his wife Victoria Elise Radbone want to sue the bloggers for defamation. The only problem is that they were allegedly defamed on an anonymous blog, so they applied to the District Court in Adelaide for orders against Google to hand over the details of the blogger.

The court has given Google 21 days to disclose to the Radbones full particulars of “relevant evidentiary material” relating to the identity of the person or persons who registered five named blogs on the network.

The court ruled that Google should hand over the email addresses, telephone numbers and the IP addresses provided by the person or persons who registered the blog.

Google was in court and declined to tell the Sydney Morning Herald what it thought of the case.

Google has handed over details before, but these were criminal cases or investigations, and even then the search engine had required a court order. It is unclear if Google has ever disclosed information or data during civil proceedings.