Computer crime, case II K 320/07

December 14th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

Do you remember Cohen v. Google, Inc., 2009 WL 2883410 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 17, 2009)? If not, just see this short description available at website. And it looks like we will have a similar case in Poland. The Polish court wants Google to reveal its users data.

In the articled entitled “Google ma ujawnić e-maile“, the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita reports recent case of Jakub Świderski. Mr Świderski is a former councillor of Sopot town and a party of a criminal suit brought against him based on a private accusation/charge by Jacek Karnowski, the President of Sopot, (who has been served with seven corruption charges) and his former deputy Cezary Jakubowski. Karnowski and Jakubowski argue that they were insulted and offended by statements allegedly published by Świderski in the onepage magazine “Obserwator sopocki” (in English: “Sopot’s Observer”) that was distributed during local elections in 2006. They also claim that their “public confidence” was jeopardized by Świderski’ actions.

“Obserwator sopocki” was published only three times in 2006. Authors of published texts suggested illicit trade premises and municipal corruption. Karnowski said he had been particularly offended by a photograph depicting his caricature with the envelope in his hand suggesting that he is taking bribes.

Mr Karnowski argues that Świderski was the publisher of “Obserwator sopocki”. The problem is that it has to be proven. The newspaper was distributed on the streets, it was not registered as the press, and the authors wrote under pseudonyms/nicknames: takata1, rzeźniksopocki, wasp. Świderski did not admit that these were his nicknames. So far, the only evidence Karnowski had, was a statement issued by Świderski in which he said “To ja jestem głównym “Obserwatorem”” (in English: “I am the leading “Observer””).

The secret trial before the Regional Court Gdańsk-Południe, case file II K 320/07, was started three years ago. Świderski was charged based on privisions of article 212 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with later amendments.

Article 212. § 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to activity
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.

§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

§ 3. When sentencing for an offence specified in §1 or 2, the court may adjudge a supplementary payment in favour of the injured person or of the Polish Red Cross, or of another social purpose designated by the injured person a supplementary payment (nawiązka).

§ 4. The prosecution of the offence specified in § 1 or 2 shall occur upon a private charge.

A few months ago Jakubowski and Karnowski requested the Court to issue an order for the disclosure of e-mail correspondence of Świderski. As Rzeczpospolita reports they asked the Court to exempt Google and Microsoft from the secrecy of correspondence, and to investigate by the Police of all IP addresses of persons, who corresponded with Świderski from July to November 2006. These are addresses registered at and

Rzeczpospolita reports that Judge Ludwika Małkowska took into account the request of Karnowski to admit the evidence of “official secret information” and exempted Google Kraków (foreign controlled company whos parent company is Google). Judge Małkowska ordered Google Kraków to provide information on persons who registered e-mail addresses related to aforementioned nicknames, identities of all persons who have access to these accounts, from which IP addresses the correspondence was retrieved and what messages were sent to which of the e-mail addresses, together with their content. Judge Małkowska stated that in this case it is necessary to determine the person or persons responsible for the defamatory publications.