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Thursday, June 14, 2012

British Court Ordered Social Network to Release Troll Data

A UK woman became a target of an Internet abuse campaign, and has now succeeded in her bid to have the identities of perpetrators disclosed.

The UK High Court handed down the decision saying that Facebook has to disclose the IP addresses of users responsible for abusing Nicola Brookes from Brighton. The woman told in the interview that she was targeted by online trolls after publishing a supportive message about talent show contestant Frankie Cocozza.

After she posted the message, Internet trolls started making her life miserable. Their effort included the attempts to portray Brookes as a drug dealer and pedophile. The woman claims that one Internet bully went as far as to create a fake profile in her name and started sending explicit messages to girls. Meanwhile, the others tracked her on the Internet and invaded a cooking forum to continue the abuse.

Her solicitor pointed out that the social network didn’t contest the order, but it refused to hand over the IP addresses before it got a court order, because it would have breached data protection legislation. Upon receiving a court order, Facebook immediately handed over the IP addresses and other information related to the trolls. The representatives of the social network said that there was no place for harassment on Facebook, but some malicious individuals still exist online just as they do offline.

Although the case wasn’t contested by Facebook, it was still important, because it was the first such case in the United Kingdom which could help speed up the same proceedings. Indeed, this case could serve as a precedent for future bullying or identity theft complaints. Nicola Brookes, in the meantime, now has to get one more court order so that the ISP could identify the bullies. Nevertheless, even with the Internet service providers on board, she might have a hard time trying to identify the trolls.

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