Google ordered to disclose identity of user who wrote scathing review for Australian dentist

WION Web Team Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Feb 14, 2020, 05.12 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

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Google explained to Australian law reform experts last year that defamation cases over online reviews could result in the suppression of free speech and consumer rights.

Teeth-whitening specialist in Melbourne wished to sue for defamation and claimed that used CBsm 23 had destroyed his business by telling potential customers to "STAY AWAY" from a procedure criticised as "extremely awkward and uncomfortable".

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The tech giant Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., was forced by the ruling and had previously defended allowing negative reviews on its site. Google is required per the court order to pass to Dr Kabbabe any personal details such as any names, phone numbers, location metadata and IP addresses linked to the account.

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Seeking documents from overseas parties needed for one's case is allowed by international law, even though Justice Bernard Murphy ruled that Dr Kabbabe could pursue a defamation case, stating that Google was "likely to have or have had control of a document or thing that would help ascertain that description of the prospective respondent".

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The ruling was described by Mr Kabbabe's lawyer as a "groundbreaking" win for small enterprises. He argued that Google had a duty of care in potentially defamatory postings as the platform it provided was vital to many businesses.

There have been no comments from Google about the ruling, though the firm has previously been reluctant to remove bad reviews and has only done so on the pretext of following court orders.

Google explained to Australian law reform experts last year that defamation cases over online reviews could result in the suppression of free speech and consumer rights.