Construction Company Asks Court To Unmask Gmail Users
"Using anonymous email identities and other means of secreting their identities, certain persons or entities distributed highly disparaging and defamatory remarks about [Govan Brown] to members of the Canadian project and construction management community," the company alleges in court papers filed last week in federal court in the Northern District of California.
Govan Brown alleges that it initially attempted to unmask the users in Canada, but says Google refused to reveal the IP addresses connected with the accounts unless a U.S. court ordered it to do so.
Google declined to comment on this lawsuit, but a spokesperson said the company's policy is to not release information about users "unless it's reasonably necessary to satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request."
Govan Brown alleges in its court papers that someone used the account email@example.com last October to send an email accusing the company of running a "scam," according to court papers. That email allegedly went to Govan Brown's competitors as well as the police and the media.
The message allegedly included assertions that Govan Brown "is corrupt," "knowingly works with corrupt subcontractors," "charged or kept fees for non-existent work," and that the company has bribed officials to obtain jobs and contracts," according to Govan Brown's court papers.
The following month, the president of the company received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org was sent to the president of the company. On that same day, the company allegedly learned about a "defamatory" letter sent to Fidelity Investments Canada asserting that Govan Brown "took part in price fixing and/or kick back schemes."
Govan Brown's lawyers declined to comment for this article.
This case marks one in a series of lawsuits in which people have attempted to unmask email users and bloggers. Last year, model Liskula Cohen successfully unmasked a blogger who created the site Skanks In NYC -- which a New York state judge ruled potentially defamed Cohen.
But earlier this year, a judge in New York rejected a request by Sandals to learn the identity of a Gmail user who allegedly sent an email criticizing the vacation resort's hiring policies as racist. The judge in that case ruled that the email wasn't defamatory because it was opinion.