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Gawker, Noted for Outing Celebs, Could See User Private Info Outed in Court

Gawker founder Nick Denton is in the process of re-engineering his flagship Web site amid a nasty lawsuit filed by ex-interns. (Photo: ScreenCap)

Gawker founder Nick Denton is in the process of re-engineering his flagship Web site amid a nasty lawsuit filed by ex-interns. (Photo: ScreenCap)

Gawker’s legal battle against a number of former lowly interns could turn into a major embarrassment if a court forces it to reveal usernames, passwords, online names, email addresses, telephone numbers and even bank account info as part of the legal action. So far, the info remains private.

Federal Judge Alison Nathan ruled earlier this week in a preliminary order that Gawker had the right to delete the information from court filings.

Christine O’Donnell’s Anonymous Gawker Sex Pal Outed (photos)

But Nahan withheld final judgment and warned the Web site that she may “revisit” her decision. If she determines the information is “subject to a heightened presumption of access” it could become public.

A large number of visitors add their own snarky comments, usually anonymously, to various Gawker posts. If the ruling ultimately goes against Gawker, their real names, email addresses and other personal info could become public.

They’ll be outed in front of the bosses and colleagues they likely made fun of.

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Ex-Gawker interns Aulistar Mark and Andrew Hudson filed the unfair labor practices lawsuit two years ago in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The case was expanded to a class action including all interns last year.

The interns reportedly support Gawker’s move to protect the info, according to Courthouse News Service. Gawker lawyer Mark Batten told the Web site the information only includes personal (non-Gawker) email addresses, almost all of which belong to “third parties, and passwords.”

“We have not asked that any substantive information be sealed, on any subject,” he said.

Gawker’s owner Nick Denton pioneered Internet snark. At the same time, he has been scored for exploiting employees, interns and freelancers. His sites, meanwhile, have gone through periods of sudden, convulsive layoffs.

Earlier this month, Denton announced that he was consolidating his Web properties and focusing on politics and technology, according to several reports. A new round of layoffs followed.

Noted sites, such as Defamer and Valley Wag are being shuttered. There are no plans to drop it satirical approach and tone to news coverage.

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