Dutch court orders Google to reveal Gmail user
Secret mails auto-forwarded
Google Netherlands has agreed to hand over the IP addresses of a Gmail user in an alleged spy case.
The CEO of Dutch internet incubator company iMerge suspected that a former disgruntled employee, who also acted as a system administrator, had secretly created an auto-forward rule in one of the company's mail servers. Several mails, including business conversations and a romantic discourse which led to a divorce, were forwarded to a Gmail address.
Because Gmail doesn't reveal someone's IP address in outgoing mail headers, iMerge couldn't take legal action against the former employee.
Google initially declined to provide iMerge with requested IP addresses on the grounds that "disclosing the user's identity violated rulings on the balance between freedom of expression and a person's right to his reputation."
However, a Dutch court believed the offence was serious enough and forced Google to reveal all the log files it had on the account. Immediately after the ruling, Google provided the required data, including a list of IP addresses.
Last year, Google would not hand over the IP address of an anonymous blogger who slandered Shaarei Tikva councilmen. When a Israeli judge ruled that the blog's content raised suspicions of criminal conduct, Google rolled over.
In July, Google was told cough up the personal data of every person who has ever watched a Viacom video on the YouTube website as part of a billion-dollar court case. Digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called the ruling a "set-back to privacy rights." ®
In the EU if you want to be an e-mail service provider you have to keep transaction logs, including IP addresses but not containing content for a period of 6 months minimum. There were lots of bruhaha's about that, with Dutch ISP XS4ALL for one. In the end this means that "Why don't these companies simply just not keep logs" is answered by "because they can't do business otherwise". Google was legally obliged to provide the requested data in this case. It's good that Google doesn't just handle over everything whenever it's asked.
They have the right to quibble and they do.
Re: Why... (@Chris Richards)
In the Viacom case, the only one for which the article quotes the EFF, it was not simply a case of evildoers claiming breach of human rights.
There is a surprising number of people who genuinely believe that anything on YouTube has been licensed, and there are others who may have clicked on links by accident and had no intention of breaching Viacom's copyright.
The number of people on *that* list includes a heck of a lot of naive innocents, as well as a minority of active criminals. Really it's only the uploaders that Viacom should have been concerning themselves with.
But as for the Dutch mail case -- a lot of commenters seem to agree that this was handled well (not that you'd noticed): refusal, court-order, compliance. It was a legitimate legal investigation, handled according to the law.
Well done all involved: sensible precedents for internet law were long overdue.
does everyone seem to be showing sympathy for this guy!? Why should he be allowed to hide behind google to escape his crime! This isn't the 1600s when you could go running to a church for sanctuary after killng your neighbours goat. If you can't do the time....
I appreciate people may worry that this is the thin end of the wedge, but the EFF are just moany student activists who aren't students any more.