Speaking out for the first time since a court order forced Google to reveal her identity, blogger Rosemary Port tells the Daily News that model Liskula Cohen should blame herself for the uproar.But before you celebrate Port's seemingly wise anti-litigation statement, take note that she's suing Google... for $15 million federal lawsuit against the Web giant.
"This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing," said Port, whose "Skanks in NYC" site branded the 37-year-old Cohen an "old hag."
"By going to the press, she defamed herself," Port said.
"Before her suit, there were probably two hits on my Web site: One from me looking at it, and one from her looking at it," Port said. "That was before it became a spectacle. I feel my right to privacy has been violated."
"When I was being defended by attorneys for Google, I thought my right to privacy was being protected," Port said.How hard did Google fight? Surely, there's no absolute right to hide your identity. Why should someone who commits the tort of defamation escape a lawsuit by hiding behind a pseudonym? It's not fair to the people who have the guts to show their names when they libel people. They get stuck being defendants in defamation suits.
"But that right fell through the cracks. Without any warning, I was put on a silver platter for the press to attack me. I would think that a multi-billion dollar conglomerate would protect the rights of all its users."
In her suit, she'll charge Google "breached its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity," said her high-powered attorney Salvatore Strazzullo.
"I'm ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court," Strazzullo said. "Our Founding Fathers wrote 'The Federalist Papers' under pseudonyms. Inherent in the First Amendment is the right to speak anonymously. Shouldn't that right extend to the new public square of the Internet?"
The key is for courts to have a high standard in determining whether there really is defamation before they order that the name be revealed. Otherwise, someone who has not actually suffered a legally remediable injury can use a lawsuit for the wrong purpose: to inflict the injury of making a pseudonymous writer's name public.
Note that Liskula Cohen is now dropping her defamation suit against Port. That's good for Port. It's bad to be sued for $3 million. But it suggests that the disclosure of the name was the point of the lawsuit. Courts should not allow themselves to be used for that purpose. And Google's lawyers should fight hard to make courts see it that way.