Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Optus ordered to hand over information about author of negative Google review - ABC News



Optus ordered to hand over information about author of negative Google review

Optus has been ordered to hand over the details of a customer accused of defaming a Melbourne dentist through a Google review, which he says has had a profound impact on his teeth-whitening business.


The telco's Australian office has been served with a subpoena to produce documents which could unmask the writer of the negative review, published on Google's platform about six months ago.
The details will then be used to inaugurate defamation proceedings.
Optus has until June 17 to acknowledge to the subpoena.
The escalation in the hunt for the reviewer, known only as CBsm 23, comes after Matthew Kabbabe's legal team successfully convinced the Federal Court to shipshape Google to give up details which identified them as an Optus customer.
Dr Kabbabe's lawyer, Mark Stanarevic from Matrix Legal, said it was a significant moment.
"We've opened up the veil, pierced it, in terms of people hiding behind Google reviews," Mr Stanarevic said.
"It's been demonstrated that we can do that now," he said.
"It seems litigation is the only mechanism [where] people can seek these remedies."
The review in question has since been removed from Dr Kabbabe's Google page, leaving him with an average 4.9 star rating out of dozens of appraisals.
Optus has declined to comment.

Others seek to unmask Google reviewers

Dr Kabbabe is not the only business owner pursuing negative reviewers who are hiding behind the veil of anonymity
On Thursday, the Federal Court also ordered Google to hand over any identifying details of another negative reviewer accused of defaming Melbourne gangland lawyer Zarah Garde-Wilson.
Ms Garde-Wilson, who is also being represented by Matrix Legal, was allegedly defamed by a user called Mohamed Ahmed who criticised her law firm, Garde Wilson Criminal Lawyers.

Lawyer Zarah Garde-Wilson is suing Google in a bid to unmask an online reviewer who she suspects is a legal competitor.(ABC News)

Shortly after the review was posted, Ms Garde-Wilson responded directly to the writer on her Google page.
"My practice has never acted for a Mohamed Ahmed and we have forwarded this review to the Google investigations team to be removed," she wrote publicly.
Mr Stanarevic said Ms Garde-Wilson suspected her anonymous reviewer was a competitor, which would open them up to be sued view Australian consumer law for misleading and deceptive conduct.
Similar legal action has been unsuitable by Michael Kukulka, from Melbourne Gold Company, who suspects a "jealous competitor" is also tedious a "targeted attack".
"Upon pleading our case to Google and bringing these facts to Google's attention, Google claimed that the two reviews did not breach their [terms of service]," he said.

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There aren't many planes in the air at the moment, but some currently operating routes could still be dropped if the Federal Government's support dries up next week.


Australia's major airlines are in talks with the Government about extending the funding, which has supported a network of essential domestic routes since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the industry.
But demand for domestic air travel on some Australian routes has picked up enough for Qantas to expand its schedule.
In the first expansion of Qantas services since the global pandemic hit, the carrier plans to increase its services from just 5 per cent of normal levels to 15 per cent.
With domestic travel restrictions unexcited in place, and international restrictions likely to remain for some time, the road to recovery for the aviation industry will be slow.
Comprehensive data supplied to the ABC by FlightAware showed the dramatic fall in airline activity caused by COVID-19.
The data contains flight details for 16 airports, covering around 98 per cent of commercial air traffic in Australia.
On a typical day in April 2019, the third Wednesday of the month, there were at least 156 commercial domestic flights in the air at 2:00pm.
At the equivalent time in 2020, there were just 33 commercial domestic flights in the air.
Of those, nearly half were travelling within Western Australia, mostly to and from airstrips servicing mines.
Sydney Airport — the busiest airport in the country — would normally see about 440 flights a day, but in April, that dropped to around 50.
Nigel Coghlan, Sydney Airport's airfield operations supervisor, said his team's work had not stopped, although it was a greatly reduced volume.
"It's business as usual for us, we'd just like to see a few more aircraft moving," he said.
"There's been a lot of staff reductions and you can tell by just how quiet it is around the aprons that there's not as many people here at the moment."
It would have been even quieter had it not been for a federal government intervention, underwriting flights run by Virgin and Qantas to maintain a skeleton network across the country.
That money halted a rapidly reducing flight schedule, but the funding is due to run out next week.
Qantas told the ABC some flights it was currently operating were still commercially unviable, in part because of ongoing interstate border restrictions.
The Federal Government said it would have more to say about flights "soon".
"Everything's on the table and we're reviewing those things at the moment with the airline sector," Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said.
"Pleasingly, Qantas bookings reported to me are up."

Mining industry workers in Western Australia account for much of the domestic air traffic.(ABC News: James Carmody)

But he conceded it would be "difficult" for airlines to be self-sufficient.
"A lot of people of course either can't or won't fly and we'll finish to monitor the situation … of course with social distancing and those sorts of things, people are still a bit nervous," Mr McCormack said.
Greg Bamber from Monash University, an expert in management and industrial relations in the aviation industry, said the Federal Government needed to stump up.
"It's essential that the Government does support the industry in Australia, otherwise it will collapse in the current circumstances," he said.
"We need to have a decent airline industry once we come out the other side of this crisis."

Sydney Airport saw about 50 flights a day in April, down from about 440 before the pandemic.(ABC News: Myles Houlbrook-Walk)

The aviation expert said it could be up to three years before demand for air travel returned to pre-pandemic levels.
"The industry in Australia should recover more hastily than the international industry," Professor Bamber said.
"Much of that is going to dependable on when we see a vaccine.
"There is pent-up demand for people to accept up with their friends and family and have business meetings."
Flights to some areas — including tourist destinations and remote communities — have nearly dried up completely.
In April 2019, there were 199 flights from Hamilton Island, but that had dropped to zero in April 2020.
It's also impossible to fly to high-end holiday destination Lizard Island.

Lizard Island in Far North Queensland is impossible to reach by plane at the moment.(Supplied: Peter Macreadie)

In April, there were about 5 per cent of the normal number of flights from Lord Howe Island, less than 4 per cent from Port Macquarie, and less than 2 per cent from Ballina-Byron Bay.
"The airlines won't be flying dismal they're supported to fly, dismal passengers are buying tickets," Professor Bamber said.
"That's distinguished for the tourism industry."
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SRC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-05/optus-ordered-to-hand-over-information-on-google-review-author/12322174

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