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Melbourne dentist compels Google to identify online reviewer

Dr Kabbabe’s lawyer, Mark Stanarevic from Matrix Legal, said the review was “malicious” and may have come from a competitor or disgruntled former employee.

The dentist in November asked Google to take down the review, and this month asked for CBsm 23’s identifying information but Google refused both requests.

‘We want to find out who this is, it could be a competitor or former empoloyee, we just don’t know.’

Mark Stanarevic from Matrix Legal

“[We] do not have any means to investigate where and when the ID was created,” Google told him on February 5, according to his affidavit.

In his judgment on Wednesday, Justice Bernard Murphy said Google likely would have control over identifying information. That could include subscriber information, the name of the user, IP addresses, phone numbers, metadata pinpointing locations and any other Google accounts that may have used the same IP address around the same time that CBsm 23 posted the review.

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Mr Stanarevic said Mr Kabbabe had been “held hostage” by the review he claimed was obviously inauthentic and “malicious”.

“We want to find out who this is, it could be a competitor or former empoloyee, we just don’t know.”

The lawyer said the review has had a dramatic impact on the business and Dr Kabbabe’s health.

“His business has been completely run down … it’s had a really big effect on him, and if it didn’t we wouldn’t be taking this action.”

Mr Stanarevic said Google should have pulled down the review as soon as it was flagged with them, and claimed there had been an “epidemic” of malicious reviews targeting online businesses.

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“All it takes is one review that is malicious and it sends [small business owners] into a spiral of depression.”

Normally, he would have had to lodge the proceedings in both Australia and the United States. But Mr Stanarevic said Wednesday’s Federal Court judgment was significant because it allowed him to serve Google directly.

The orders will be mailed to Google offices in California on Friday.

Google declined to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

Dr Kabbabe declined to comment through his lawyer.

In a separate case last week, Adelaide barrister Gordon Cheng won a $750,000 defamation payout after a woman left a one-star review on Google despite never hiring him.

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