Bad day for whistleblowers too?
By Jan Libbenga
After almost three years of long-lasting legal procedures, the Dutch
Supreme Court ruled today that Dutch ISP Lycos must reveal the name of
an anonymous website owner who ridiculed a part-time stamp trader.
However, there is little Lycos can disclose other than a fake address
that the website owner once provided.
Dutch citizen Bernard Pessers traded postage stamps through eBay and
was accused of fraud by an anonymous Lycos member on his home page.
Pessers demanded the closure of the site and told Lycos that he also
wanted to know the identity of its member. When Lycos refused, Pessers
took the ISP to court.
After the initial verdict, Lycos handed over the data, but when the
address turned out to be wrong, Pessers started another procedure to
force Lycos to find the correct information. That demand was turned
down in court, but this was in turn overruled by the Dutch Appeals
Court. Lycos then took the case to the Dutch Supreme Court. The
so-called Lycos-Pessers defence, which has dragged on for years, has
attracted attention from legal experts worldwide.
The Supreme Court today for the most part followed the opinion of the
Dutch Advocate General, who earlier this year argued that ISPs in some
cases can indeed be sued over the identity of their members to pursue
a civil action against someone who's anonymous.