Feature

Liskula Cohen and free speech

The significance of a court decision ordering Google to identify a blogger who called a model Cohen a "skank"

"Bloggers beware," said Andrew Cohen in CBS News. "If you choose to trash-talk online and insult people, you may not be able to hide behind a web of anonymity." A judge has ordered Google to release the identity of a blogger who trashed former Vogue model Liskula Cohen on a blog called "Skanks in NYC." It's about time -- no site should protect bloggers who "hide behind privacy issues" to do "such hurtful things." (watch Good Morning America's report on the Liskula Cohen ruling)

How "scary," said Kim LaCapria in The Inquisitr. Liskula Cohen is a New York party girl -- calling her a whoring "skank" hardly qualifies as libel or slander. And the musings of "Skanks in NYC" -- a site taken down way before Cohen won her lawsuit -- it certainly didn't justify a court ruling that amounts to an attack on the free speech of bloggers everywhere.

There is "anonymous speech that really does need to be anonymous," said InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringely in the San Francisco Chronicle, "like blogs by political dissidents in repressive countries." But this ruling "is not necessarily a bad thing. There is way too much nastiness on the Net hiding under the shield of anonymity." The lesson here is think before you blog -- the person you attack might fight back.

This fight isn't over, said Tracy Clark-Flory in Salon. Cohen needed the identity of the "bilious blogger" to move on to the next step -- a defamation lawsuit destined to be a "circus," as Cohen seeks to prove the insults were false. I'm all for reining in "anonymous trolls" who malign women's sexual reputations online, but the libertarian in me is uneasy. This is certainly a case to watch.

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