excerpted from a column by Wendy Davis

Attempts to harness the legal system to get offensive material removed from the Internet have often backfired, as the court proceedings themselves generate far more interest in the dispute than if everyone had kept silent. In her legal papers, model Liskula Cohen is asking a judge to order Google to reveal the identity of the blogger behind Skanks in NYC, a site devoted to smearing her. In New York, bloggers are entitled to anonymity unless the courts find reasons to believe the bloggers have libeled someone. This means that a court won't order the blogger unmasked unless it first finds that the posts allege facts about Cohen, as opposed to opinions. Technically speaking, the cyberbullying aspect of the posts might be irrelevant to that determination. But surely the judge will be aware that cyberbullying has resulted in tragedy on at least one well-publicized occasion - the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier, who killed herself after receiving hurtful messages on MySpace.


Wendy Davis is a columnist for The Daily Online Examiner, from which these six sentences are excerpted. Liskula Cohen, who has modeled for Giorgio Armani and Versace, made headlines last year when a doorman at a Manhattan hot spot was jailed after smashing her in the face with a vodka bottle.