Aug 302010
 
 August 30, 2010  Court, Non-U.S., Online

Charlie Taylor reports:

An Irish Red Cross (IRC) employee, who was the focus of a recent High Court action after anonymously publishing online confidential information about the charity, has outed himself on his blog.

Noel Wardick, head of the international department with the IRC, set up a blog last December in which he outlined widespread problems at the charity, including alleged financial irregularities.

Mr Wardick also used the blog to call for a full-scale independent investigation into the affairs and operations of the organisation.

The blogger’s decision to reveal his identity comes shortly after internet service provider UPC was forced to comply with an order to supply details about him to the charity. In a controversial move, the charity brought a High Court action against Google Ireland and UPC last month seeking to know the identity of the person behind the blog.

Read more in the Irish Times.

TJ McIntyre, the chair of Digital Rights Ireland, defends online anonymity in a related commentary and points out an important difference between Irish law and U.S. law:

Unlike other jurisdictions such as the United States, Irish law fails to ensure that users are notified of attempts to identify them and given an opportunity to oppose the application. Consequently in most cases Irish users are dependent on their ISP to make a case on their behalf. ISPs, however, have no commercial incentive to do so.

As a result, although the law is supposed to balance the rights of the parties before ordering identification, the court will generally hear only the plaintiff’s version of events. If Irish law is to fully protect anonymous speech online then it will be important to ensure that users have a right to be heard before their identity is revealed – notification afterwards is too little, too late.

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