Court Rules Google Must Reveal Negative YouTube Commenter’s Identity

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NEW YORK — A business consultant who wants to know who’s been anonymously disparaging and fixating on her online has gotten a court to force Google to tell her.

As she joined a growing number of people who have persuaded courts to unmask troublesome cyber ciphers, Carla Franklin said Wednesday she hoped her case would help others combat similar problems.

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“The Internet cannot become a safe haven for harassers and stalkers,” she said in an e-mail.

Google Inc. declined to comment. The Mountain View, Calif.-based online giant says it doesn’t discuss individual cases to protect users’ privacy, but it follows applicable laws.

A Manhattan court ruling issued Tuesday gives the company a couple of weeks to provide Franklin with identity and contact information for the person or people who posted denigrating comments and unauthorized videos of her, beginning last year.

The videos, posted on Google-owned YouTube, were clips from an innocuous student film in which she had appeared years before, coupled with personal information about her to create an unsettling online shrine, she said. Franklin did some modeling and acting before becoming a consultant to nonprofit organizations.

The comments, made though another YouTube channel, featured a sexual slur and were posted alongside videos she made for Columbia Business School while earning a master’s degree there, she said.

The postings were humiliating, creepy and potentially hurtful to Franklin’s professional prospects, she and her lawyer have said.

Franklin said in a blog post of her own this month that she believes she knows who’s responsible, but she went to court last summer to get proof so she could potentially pursue further legal action. Her court case didn’t involve Columbia.

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