The importance of online reviews in this day and age is hard to overstate, which is why companies pay attention to things like King Kong agency reviews and user ratings. Negative reviews are also monitored and talked about.
So when a Melbourne dentist got hit with a negative review that he felt was defamatory, he took the case to federal court.
Dr. Matthew Kabbabe, specializing in teeth whitening, turned to the legal system for aid regarding an anonymous about his practice, looking to sue for defamation. The Google review, from user CBsm 23, criticized one of his procedures as extremely awkward and uncomfortable, before warning people to stay away from Dr. Kabbabe. The dentist stated that this anonymous review damaged his business, which is why he turned to the courts.
Now, Google has been hit with a court order that orders it to identify the person behind “CBsm 23”, requiring the tech giant to pass any information they have on the user to Dr. Kabbabe; things like names, phone numbers, IP addresses, and location metadata.
In the past, Google has gone to defend putting up negative reviews on their site, even telling law reform experts in the AU that defamation cases over online user reviews could lead to infringements on customer rights and free speech.
International law allows for any individuals or businesses to ask for documents from involved parties, even those operating overseas, if said information is necessary for a case.
Google had previously refused Dr. Kabbabe’s requests for the removal of the review, or to even divulge any information regarding the anonymous author. Dr. Kabbabe reported that Google went so far as to say that they don’t have the means to figure out when and where the ID was created.
Justice Bernard Murphy ruled that the Melbourne dentist had grounds to file a defamation case, and that Google likely had access or control of information that was relevant to the case.
Dr. Kabbabe’s lawyer, Mark Stanarevic, issued a statement on the ruling, saying that it’s ground-breaking for small businesses in the AU, adding that Google had a responsibility to properly host reviews, which included dealing with potentially defamatory postings.
Stanarevic stated that people who make defamatory reviews, like fake King Kong agency reviews, should be wary, as the legislative system is catching up little by little, and the barrier of anonymity, even with a VPN, can now only do so much.