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A blogger who has sharply criticised Chevron’s actions in Ecuador received a nasty surprise last month when Google was subpoenaed for information about his email.Kevin Jon Heller, who writes for Opinio Juris, got an email from Google last month informing him that it had been subpoenaed as part of a lawsuit filed by Chevron.
Google said it intended to comply with the request unless he moved to quash the subpoena, according to an email from Google that Heller posted.
As part of Chevron’s lawsuit, subpoenas were sent to Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo looking for information about 101 email addresses, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.
Chevron says it’s trying to determine whether key figures in the case used different emails to perpetuate fraud that resulted in a $19 billion judgement against it in Ecuador, according to the Chronicle.
Ecuadorians won the judgment after accusing Chevron’s predecessor Texaco of dumping toxic waste in the Amazon rain forest.
As part of that fraud, Chevron alleges key figures in the case “blackmailed a judge” and “had a hand in writing the ultimate judgement,” company spokesman Justin Higgs told Business Insider.
“We’re trying to get to the bottom of that sort of conduct and understand how it contributed to the fraud,” company spokesman Kent Robertson said of the ongoing battle.
Heller was outraged not only at the request but at the fact Google “apparently had no intention whatsoever” of protecting his privacy.
“I am — obviously — a blogger. I am also, as a blogger, a journalist,” he wrote on Opinio Juris. “I have sources who provide me with confidential information on a wide variety of issues; those sources could lose their jobs if their identities were ever revealed.”
Heller brought in the American Civil Liberties Union, which immediately requested a copy of the subpoena. It turns out Chevron was allegedly seeking nine years of IP logs that would provide the identity of his service providers.
Since Heller went public, Chevron has withdrawn its request to subpoena his email information, Heller confirmed to Business Insider.
“For now at least, then, the matter is closed,” he added.
But he still doesn’t buy Chevron’s explanation.
“A simple Google search for my email address shows that it has been used in connection with my books and articles for years,” he told Business Insider. “So I believe that Chevron was simply trying to intimidate and harass me on account of my consistently critical blogging about their litigation tactics.”
A Google spokeswoman told the Chronicle that the company complies with valid requests, but that it narrows those it considers too broad.
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