A Nova Scotia judge has ordered Google and managers of a weekly newspaper to reveal the identities of seven people who are alleged to have defamed senior members of the Halifax fire department with remarks about racism within the organization. The long-awaited decision by Justice Heather Robertson is an important step in the legal dispute pitting Internet freedom against the right to protect one’s public reputation. The court has ordered The Coast newspaper to provide all information provided by the users when they established their accounts on its website; all other email addresses
associated with those accounts; log-file information such as IP addresses, times and dates of log-ins and the activity on the accounts. Google, meanwhile, must provide all information it has relating to the identity of a person who distributed online a letter about the fire department from a Gmail address. Since IP addresses are included in the court’s sweeping requirement, any of the commenters who used fake names to set up their accounts with the paper or Google won’t be anonymous for long.
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