Monday, July 17, 2006

Online Anonymity - Ryanair Edition (continued)

The Irish Times reports that Ryanair has lost its action seeking to identify pilots posting to a bulletin board under pseudonyms. While the judgment doesn't seem to address the privacy issues involved, it does look at motive behind the action, and notes that "when Ryanair set up an investigation to find out who was behind the website, the real purpose of that investigation was to 'break the resolve' of pilots to seek better terms and conditions." This is an important finding - it indicates that actions to identify internet users should be assessed carefully to see whether there is some improper purpose underlying the application. From the Irish Times:
A High Court judge has rejected claims by Ryanair that its pilots or their unions had engaged in bullying, intimidation or isolation of other pilots over conditions imposed by Ryanair relating to training on new aircraft.

The only evidence of bullying was by Ryanair itself, Mr Justice Thomas Smyth stated yesterday. He described as "most onerous and bordering on oppression" a condition requiring pilots to pay Ryanair €15,000 for training on new aircraft in 2004. The €15,000 was payable by pilots if they left the company within five years or if Ryanair was required to engage in collective bargaining within the same period.

In a strongly worded reserved judgment, the judge dismissed a bid by the private airline for orders aimed at identifying pilots who posted messages under codenames, such as "ihateryanair" and "cantfly, wontfly" on a pilots' website. Ryanair had claimed the messages showed evidence of wrongful activity against it and its employees.

The judge also made a finding of false evidence in relation to two members of Ryanair management who had given evidence at the hearing. He held that, when Ryanair set up an investigation to find out who was behind the website, the real purpose of that investigation was to "break the resolve" of pilots to seek better terms and conditions. There was no warrant for Ryanair's action in seeking assistance from gardaí on the matter, he added.

He rejected as "baseless and false" the evidence of Ryanair director of personnel Eddie Wilson in relation to the setting up the investigation. The judge also said there was no conspiracy in relation to the setting up of the website and it was not engaged in anything unlawful. There was "no actionable wrong", he held, and dismissed Ryanair's application.

No comments:

Post a Comment