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Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Aug. 21

Google Gives It Up

The court ruled, Google (GOOG) caved and the Supermodel got her way.

Former Vogue cover girl Liskula Cohen was granted a court order this week forcing Google to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger who trashed her online. A Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled that she was entitled to the information and ordered Google, which ran the offending blog, to disclose it.

On Good Morning America Wednesday, Cohen said she called her online tormentor and told her "If I've ever done anything to you to actually deserve this, that I'm really very sorry."

Not as sorry as Google is going to be now that this identity-revealing precedent is set.

In a filing back in January, Cohen said that comments posted on Google' s Blogger.com were defamatory, malicious and untrue. "I would have to say the first-place award for "Skankiest in NYC" would have to go to Liskula Gentile Cohen," wrote "Anonymous" in one posting.

Anne Salisbury, a lawyer for the blogger, argued that the crude attacks on Cohen were merely "youthful, jocular, slangy" terms that are protected by the courts. Justice Joan Madden, however, rejected that view, saying that the blogs "serve as a modern-day forum for conveying personal opinions, including invective and ranting".

We here at the Five Dumbest Lab may not be legal scholars, but we say the whole thing is just a silly elementary school catfight spun out of control and is now unfortunately clogging our courts.

That said, the big loser in this unseemly affair is not the thin-skinned supermodel or the jealous blogger but Google. The Web services giant will now be on the hook to divulge the identity of every anonymous poster with an Internet connection and an ax to grind.

Google spokesman Andrew Pederson claimed no such worries saying the company would "respect privacy concerns and will only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or other court order."

Sorry Andrew. But Google has already started down the slippery slope. Get ready to drown in a sea of litigation.

Dumb-o-meter score: 90 -- Somebody Google up the First Amendment.

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