Google has released information that will result in the identification of an Israeli blogger who used its platform to allegedly slander Shaarei Tikva council members running for re-election.

For more than a year, it appears that this anonymous blogger has slandered three Shaarei Tikva councilmen on the blog, accusing them of various criminal acts.

According to Israel’s Globes Online:

The three councilmen filed a NIS 300,000 lawsuit against the blogger, who was named “anonymous” in the statement of claim. They also asked for a court order ordering Google to disclose the blogger’s IP address, which would enable the court to contact the blogger’s Internet services provider and order it to disclose the blogger’s identity.

Google initially refused to comply, saying that disclosing the blogger’s identity violated rulings on the “balance between freedom of expression and a person’s right to his reputation.”

It was at this junction that what really transpired became obfuscated. IDM News ran a report that accused Google of first handing over the IP address to the court, leading to his identity being revealed. Google spokesman disputes this in an e-mail to CNET’s Declan McGullagh, stating that Google only handed over the IP address of the blogger after a court order required it to do so.

What was known, though, was that Judge Oren Schwartz, who presided over the case, said in a pre-ruling that the blog’s content raised suspicions of criminal conduct.

While libel can be a civil offense in the United States, it is not a crime. However, the legal situation in Israel is such that it can be tantamount to criminal defamation. In such a scenario, the details of a surfer may be disclosed.

So what really happened? Did Google really set a world precedent by its actions?