National Post reported recently that York University has won a court order against Google, Bell and Rogers to reveal the identities of the users behind a GMail account (Google’s e-mail service) which was used to send out some not-so-nice-stuff about the university’s president. From the article:
The university took the extraordinary measures after an email was circulated alleging that president Mamdouh Shoukri “perpetrated an outrageous fraud” when publicly touting the appointment of a new dean.
..an email in the name of a group called York Faculty Concerned About the Future of York University was sent using a Google Gmail account to members of the York community challenging the statements regarding Prof. Singer’s scholarly output. “Lying about scholarly credentials is the gravest offence,” the email said before calling for the president’s resignation and a new search for a dean.
York obtained a court order in May compelling Google to turn over Internet Protocol addresses associated with the Gmail account. Google identified Bell Canada and Rogers Communications as the relevant Internet Service Providers.
Last month, York sought similar orders compelling Bell and Rogers to disclose the contact information of the customers who accessed the account, a motion that went unopposed by the telecom giants.
This makes me uncomfortable. Taking anonymity out of the Internet, however messy it gets at times, is a hit on our freedom of speech at the end of the day. A university, of all entities, initiated this, and the telecom companies didn’t stand up for their customers either. Google has been known to mount strong defences against giving up user information in the US…wonder what happened here in Canada ? Will keep you posted on this..