Court Gives Dentist Permission To Seek User Details Over Bad Review
Dr. Matthew Kabbabe, a Melbourne dentist, has been permitted by the federal court( Court Gives Dentist Permission ) to sue Google as he tries to acquire personal details about an anonymous negative review about his practice. The user known as CBsm23 claimed the procedure was “a complete waste of time” and that Dr. Kabbabe caused the appointment to be “extremely awkward and uncomfortable.” Dr. Kabbabe claims that this is the only negative review of his business and the clinic responded asking the patient to contact them.
Dr. Kabbabe told ABC that he thinks it is unfair that people can “anonymously attack honest, hardworking small businesses.” He says the single negative review has had a profound impact on both his teeth whitening business and his life. All of the other reviews of the dentist are five stars.
Dr. Kabbabe reported to the court that he contacted Google directly in November 2019 asking for the review to be removed. Google declined his request, so the dentist asked for information on the user. Google responded by saying that it did “not have any means to investigate where and when the ID was created.”
On February 12, federal court justice Bernard Murphy granted permission to request a document from Google that would contain the subscriber’s information. This includes the IP address that logged onto the account, phone numbers, the name of users, more metadata, and other Google accounts that may have also used the same IP address at the time the review was posted. In his ruling, Justice Murphy wrote that Dr. Kabbabe seeks to find the unknown reviewer so that he can sue him or her for defamation. Mark Stanarevic, Dr. Kabbabe’s lawyer, said that the ruling is “groundbreaking” for small businesses and a victory for his client.
Google Claims that Defamation Threats can Suppress Information That could Help Potential Customers Avoid Bad Businesses
There is an increasing number of defamation cases that have been brought against Google as well as other reviewer sites that are resistant to removing bad reviews. Google will only consider removing negative reviews with a court ( Court Gives Dentist Permission ) order.
Typically, serving an international company like Google would take months due to the Hague Service Convention. This international treaty states that the documents would have to first be processed in two countries. First, it would have to be lodged in Australia at a central authority. A request would then have to be made with a United States central authority and afterward be organized to be served.
The work of Mr. Stanarevic is significant because he was able to find a legal loophole that permits Google to be served directly through international registered post. This will speed up the process and they are hoping to get a response in a few weeks.
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