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Google Subpoenaed to Reveal Bloggers

January 1, 2011

The latest AOL initiative to close us down is this subpoena to Google, received yesterday as a New Years Gift, with the following mail:

Hello,

Google has received a subpoena for information related to your Google
account in a case entitled Art of Living Foundation v. Does 1-10,
inclusive, US District Court for the Northern District of California,
10-cv-5022 LB (Internal Ref. No. 123262).

To comply with the law, unless you provide us with a copy of a motion to
quash the subpoena (or other formal objection filed in court) via email at
legal-support@google.com by January 18, 2011, Google may provide
responsive documents on this date.

For more information about the subpoena, you may wish to contact the party
seeking this information at:

Karl S. Kronenberger
Kronenberger Burgoyne, LLP
150 Post Street, Suite 520
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415)955-1155

Google is not in a position to provide you with legal advice.

If you have other questions regarding the subpoena, we encourage you to
contact your attorney.

Thank you,

Google Legal Support

It is a very long document full of legal terms, basically stating that AOL believes us to be criminals, and that they want Google to reveal our identities so that we can be prosecuted.

What are the implications of this? It is too early to say. Maybe AOL will succeed in closing us down. They are certainly not lacking in money and other resources. Remember this, when you are reading this blog; it may not be around for long.

It saddens me, to experience this kind of action from my former, favorite person in the world -Ravi Shankar. To me, this step confirms how wrong I was about him. I used to think the world of him. To me, he was the closest thing to God anyone could experience. I touched his feet. I cried in his lap. I listened to his every word, and believed everything he said. I prayed to him, and waited for him to save me from myself.

In the end, I had to save myself from him.

Today, his lawyers call me a crook, and I consider him a cult leader. Sometimes, the irony of life just blows you away.

I whish you all a happy New Year.

A special thanks to WB, Doc , John and PW, my trusted co-bloggers. I so much enjoy reading your posts, and keeping this blog going would be impossible without you.

And as the new year starts, let us all send a warm thought to Klim, and honour his tremendous courage and determination to let the truth about AOL be heard. Cudos to you, Klim!

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34 Comments
  1. grateful_reader permalink
    January 1, 2011 10:51 pm

    So AOL is subpoenaing information 6 accounts because they claim to want to charge those people with defamation and posting copyrighted materials.

    I don’t think the defamation thing could hold up but I don’t know about the copyright issue.

    Here’s a guide from the EFF answering questions about this:
    https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/overview

    Here are links about bloggers’ and whistleblowers’ right to speak anonymously:
    https://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity
    https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers
    http://www.citizen.org/litigation/article_redirect.cfm?ID=14267

    Here are cases where courts have required the subpoenaing party to show a compelling need for the information that outweighs the speakers’ constitutional rights to free speech and privacy:
    https://www.eff.org/issues/cyberslapp

    The EFF or other free speech organizations might be able to provide pro-bono legal help:
    https://www.eff.org/about/contact

    If you don’t get pro-bono help, are any of you lawyers? How much would it cost to consult a lawyer about this? I’d be willing to contribute for a legal consultation.

  2. Abhilash Shastry permalink
    January 2, 2011 7:32 am

    I am not surprised.

    Cults are not known for any subtlety when it comes to silencing their critics.

    And here we thought that Swami Sadyojatah had already figured out who were the people behind this blog. At least, that is the impression he gave in his post. However, now it seems that the high priests of AOL have still not been able to figure out the identity of the blog owner and had to subpoena Google to know the identity. So what was that rant by Swami Sadyojatah about people behind “negative blogs”? Empty posturing?

    Make no mistake. AOL is acting more and more like a closed mafia group with deep pockets. This blog has kicked them where it hurts most – their revenue stream. Just like a good mafia don SSRS will go all the way to track the bloggers, embroil them in law suits, harass them, physically intimidate them and thus silence any critical voice.

    Their entire business model is based on the premise of SSRS as the infallible leader. If you start questioning the basic premise, their business model will collapse. How can any self respecting “man of honor” tolerate this? I mean talk about unconditional love etc. is fine, but business is business.

  3. Swapnil permalink
    January 2, 2011 5:35 pm

    Create a Paypal account and ask for donations for the legal fight

  4. Independent Observer permalink
    January 3, 2011 2:24 am

    The big might of AOL is not its money…but its flawed fundamentals which nobody questions. Like Abilash said, its all based on the premise that SSRS is flawed. This is the ONLY thing that they have working for them. So lets not play into the MONEY / LEGAL thingie that they want to draw us into. Gorilla infowar works better.

    Lets just take a look at what has happened

    1. There is an email that we have from google. Google needs some documentation from us else they are forced to reveal info.
    2. We do not want to reveal that info.
    3. But Google is just an in between player (a resource that is free only financially) that WE used to our benefit when it suited us (there is always a cost for anything we use, hence we also do have to give back something). We have given that in many other ways toi existence …not directly to google…so not to worry.

    What is again important to us is that we waste no time, energy and effort negotiating with google and exposing how lopsided the legal system is. Do not waste energy getting stuck with the in between guys (google, lawyers and so on).

    We do what Asange did. We have between all of us, probably the same database of volunteers (or atleast 805 of it) that AOL has. We prepare an information pack (Doc and Prosecutor this is your job) and we will email it directly to the whole crowd if AOL attempts to take the big Gorilla stand.

    Suggest that we prepare a synopsis of this and send it to SSRS himself, so he can see what will be emailed to the whole AOL world.

    Right now its only those who want to peek and who are seriously interested to learn more that come to this blog….its PULL based…and its slow. If we do the PUSH bit, the critical mass the blog will achieve will be much faster.

    The title of the email can be “Why SSRS is suing me in Court !!!!!” As far as this blog’s content is concerned All Publicity (negative or positive) is GOOD PUBLICITY.

    • Independent Observer permalink
      January 3, 2011 2:38 am

      Typo error …sorry guys My post above should have read

      “Like Abilash said, its all based on the premise that SSRS is the ultimate being (God).”

      Looking at it closely…and seeing what is happening now

      a. GOD Is Unable to stand imperfect beings (bloggers)
      b. GOD Has decided to take action against these imperfect beings as their imperfections are SLOWING DOWN God’s work. Flipside being God believes that these imperfect beings are POWERFUL enough to stop his work.
      c. Its interesting that God has to use the legal system to reach and CORRECT the beings that he created and KNOWs everything about.
      d. Its interesting that God is actually hurting (which means he needs things to happen his WAY or else !!!!)
      e. Hmmmmm, this God is seriously needy. Since God has his own specific needs, clearly he is not the ultimate or the Supreme…somebody needs to give him stuff to keep him happy!!!!
      f. So, question for you my dear reader….Is this God, God ?

      • anonymous permalink
        January 3, 2011 1:27 pm

        superb..perfectly said

  5. Independent Observer permalink
    January 3, 2011 2:41 am

    One more typo…..805 should have been 80%

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      January 3, 2011 7:28 pm

      also – gorilla infowar 😉

      • The Doctor permalink
        January 3, 2011 8:36 pm

        That’s exactly what he said. Did you mean “guerilla” – either of you? 😉

  6. anonee permalink
    January 3, 2011 3:09 am

    Great idea, I will also contibute to a Paypal account, so open one. And this side of AoL should be told to the press, it will make them look so bad and make this blog popular. Some states have a free legal advice clinic held weekly, not sure if this happens in CA. And why not post the entire affidavit here, so it’s easier when contacting press, to show them what AoL is really all about.

  7. Observer permalink
    January 3, 2011 5:40 am

    Sometimes, the irony of life just blows you away.
    SO TRUE!! Good luck to this blog, and please post info as to how the interested visitors can help out.

  8. Anonymous permalink
    January 3, 2011 6:19 am

    Dear Luke (Skywalker)

    Hope that you are able to obtain the legal help you need to defend your statements. They deserve the most nobel defence.

    I have to disclose here that I too am an Art of Living Teacher, since 2000, although VERY part-time , VERY borderline and actually spoke out quite heretically about the whole Guru worship thing while in the midst of TTC @ (2000) when it was still a two year process. And being ex-communicated by most of the group in that process. It was weird because shortly after my “confession of doubt’ about the sacredness of the whole tradition, i was hit by a plywood panel that fell on my head and knocked me out,of course devotees saw this Divine punishment for my doubting nature and rajasic ego…

    Nonetheless, i did feel huge devotion to the Divine in the presence of Sri sri ravi shankar, and kept the faith I did teach Part one course but with my own “spin” and with a great deal of emphasis that people should feel free to trust their own sense of intuition and inner discrimination. In other words, i encouraged people to trust their own judgment and not feel compelled to be “puppets: of the guru.Left the Guru-worship part out of it
    And people had wonderful experiences.

    But increasingly i have had my doubts about the cultic obsession with the person of the guru. I taught that everyone is to find their own way of relating to the divine.

    Have encountered a great expression of relief from western practitioners who were put off by the
    eastern
    guru-centric approach..Not that i personally denigrate the effect of Grace, in fact i am of the firm belief that your own purity of heart is a greater force than that of the Guru; your true purify of heart and authentic of devotion will purify the messages put forth by the clowns and pretenders of this AOL organization.
    and let there be no doubt – they are there – but they are simply ignorant placeholders for the
    divine Truth.
    that truth is yours and no-one has the power to take it away from you; it is your birthright!

    I am currently doing Phd in study of sudarshan kriya yoga and other human potential movement programs and i think they are very deeply based on ancient and tried and true knowledge.

    I have come from the teachings of Da Abavasa, Maharisi Mahesh Yogi and Sri Sri
    ravi shankar Avibasas.
    YUp i have had many,many doubts about the teaching, especially about the dollars and cents aspects to the movement, but also about some of the more -what i would call the mote ‘facile’ elements of the teachings.

    Nevertheless,would be a liar if i dint say that this guru awakened me to the divine conditions. didn’t say anything else – didn’t seem to care -but he definitely reinforced my connection with the absolute non-verbal divine state.

    But, no! I thought the DSN courses sucked – i do not believe in coercive recruitment facile’aspect
    sri sri ravi Shankar
    So i say to all aspirants: please! trust your intuition. Do not override your own
    ‘built-in” guru! God is very real!

    PS- i’m doing a PhD dissertation on comparison of mindfulness meditation and Sudarshan kriya yoga.. very interesting and at the same time expanding the framework of personal change programs

    Love
    Bo-bo the kriya clown

    An-amazing affirmation of the validity of this position came to me in the middle of TTC 2 at the Montreal Ashram: a young Indian man came to my bedside at about 2;00 AM ON the last night of what was for him TTC 1- he said he was deeply;y troubled by the course teachings and that he did not want to become quote: ” a robot of the guru” and so was dropping out of the TTC program and was basically seeking validation from me about his decision. I told him that he was “right on “and that he should always trust his own intuition: noGuru can replace or usurp the Divine guidance that lies within us and which is our birthright.The next day i was blackballed and asked to leave the Ashram..
    But strangely enough Guruji actually had Michael Fischman call me from Guruji’sKutir at the ashram and tell me that i was always welcome at the Ashram

    I went on to be Part 1 course teacher, but always reserved the right to present the knowledge in a way would work for Western students who were not necessarily interested in becoming Indian Guru Worshippers. SO i was honoured the Guru as the source of this particular manifestation of the knowledge but mot someone who had to be worshipped n order to gain the blessings of the Kriya

    Nonetheless, we have had some very wonderful, spiritual course her in rural and northern
    Ontario and i am committed to continuing to make these available to people

    but we’ll see what follows. some of the postings on this and related blogs are somewhat disconcerting.

    Let’s get together and form a citizens’ movement for grass roots self-realixation

    BG

    kirya

    0

    • grateful_reader permalink
      January 3, 2011 8:08 am

      This is a interesting post. If I understood you correctly you’re saying Sri Sri is okay with westerners not doing cultish guru-worship like the rest of the organization.

      It would be great if you could expand on this comment in a separate post, it seems you have had some interesting experiences as an AOL teacher.

  9. OASCS permalink
    January 3, 2011 6:22 am

    Start lots of mirror blogs .. wikileaks also opened many mirror sites when they were attacked by the US….

  10. John permalink
    January 3, 2011 7:24 am

    It would be sad if this blog was shutdown. Are you planning to host the material on another blogging service or website?
    Maybe the content of this site should be made available as a torrent.

  11. Xiphobia permalink
    January 3, 2011 9:31 am

    I don’t think it’s criticism per se, that is creating problems for this blog, but it is the unrelenting lack of respect and failure to honor past agreements. Posting all this teaching material is just nasty and wrong. You are attempting to hurt the AOL and now you are facing legal consequences. If you had a blog that had a mature discussion of the things that bothered you with the AOL it would be one thing, but this constant uncritical bashing of SSRS and AOL is so profoundly unhelpful to you. You obviously need to to come to terms with your experience while with SSRS and AOL. By painting AOL/SSRS as all wrong and you as all good, you are not helping yourself. You need to discriminate between what was of value for you and what wasn’t. All of this,”Yeah, AOL sucks!” and then everybody joining in doesn’t help you or anyone.

    • The Doctor permalink
      January 3, 2011 12:34 pm

      Xiphobia, it really isn’t that black and whit.

      Firstly, if you look around the site, you won’t find any AoL teaching material, nor will you find any other copyrighted material whatsoever, for the simple reason that all of it was removed when WordPress asked the blog owner to do so several months ago after they received a complaint from AoL.

      Secondly, if you really have spent any the time reading through all the posts as you say you have elsewhere, you will realize that a great deal of what is written here is not only critical but is very valid, accurate and above all true. Many posts are written with the explicit purpose of exposing Art of Living for what it really is, and no one here is trying to defame anyone. The truth speaks for itself. If Art of Living really was a spiritual organization and not a cult, they would simply ignore these things (“Accept people as they are” etc. etc.) rather than spending all this money which they obviously collected in the name of charity on a legal battle.

      No, Xiphobia, the only reason they are doing this now is because they are desperate that the truth about them is out, and they are trying to take extreme measures to silence those who are exposing them.

      This is one of the most disturbing things I have ever read, and it is by Guruji’s right-hand man, Swami Sadyojatha:

      http://www.kashikar.net/2010/08/the-truth-about-the-negative-blogs-%E2%80%93-by-swami-sadhyojathah/

      In this article he attacks an ex-AoL teacher, using every possible means he can to defame her. This article was published with Guruji’s full blessing, and as such it speaks volumes about him and about the organization. And this is exactly what AoL wants to do to the people behind this blog, and this is why they’re going after them.

      Personally, I am not trying to hurt AoL per se. What I am trying to do is to show people the big picture, and not just what AoL tells them, and let them decide for themselves. If you’ve read my posts, you know that I have been nothing but fair and balanced in everything I have written, and I have tried to maintain an objective perspective as much as possible.

      So please, stop trying to bash everybody on here because you disagree with a few comments that some bloggers have made. You come across as someone who is desperately trying to create noise and to distract anyone finding these blogs from the truth contained within, and I’m sorry to tell you it isn’t going to work.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      January 3, 2011 5:19 pm

      Xiphobia,

      The copyright material (which was not copyrighted in the first place) was removed way back, when wordpress had requested it.

      Whatever your ideological disagreement with the blog, legal action is not punishment for our misdeeds – it is just a scare tactic. Clearly the emperor has no clothes, and is paranoid that we all know it.

    • Abhilash Shastry permalink
      January 4, 2011 3:09 am

      @Xiphobia:

      Oh, come on. This is no legal action. This is simply a scare tactics used by cults everywhere. Regardless of the outcome of any lawsuit, an organization as rich as AOL is not going to become poor due to legal expenses of a court case. But they know that for an individual, the same cost can be crippling. Their main interest is in filing the case and dragging it as long as they can.

      If they are really interested in taking legal action, they can start with the persons they know – preferably in India, where media will be interested in the juicy tidbits of a court case involving SSRS, not in the US where no one would really care if SSRS or AOL were involved in a court case. For starters, your daddy knows me quite well. Go tell him that I call him a crook of the first order. Let him file a lawsuit against me in India. That way I can also get my fifteen minutes of fame with the scandal hungry news channels.

      • Thanks for saving me permalink
        January 4, 2011 5:39 am

        Well said, Abhilash.

        The blog really seems to have hurt their revenue streams. It is just scare tactics and nothing else and just goes on demonstrating their meanness same as in get recruits at any cost/ or stop this blog at any cost.

        They need to create new knowledge sheets/points incorporating sutra’s (aphorisms) mentioned in Swami Sadyojata and these scare tactics for use of those who want truth to be buried forever or throttling free and honest speech.

  12. Story2Reality permalink
    January 4, 2011 6:49 am

    More details on this case

    http://www.rfcexpress.com/lawsuit.asp?ID=66992

  13. anonee permalink
    January 4, 2011 10:02 am

    Why have you not set up a paypal account? Do you not want to proceed with this blog? Critique only creates a balanced big picture. With all their own tall claims, blowing their own trumpet, your efforts just balance out a lopsided equation. AoL going to court shows them in poor light. Dignified silence is what they should have adopted in the first place. Harshals of AoL showed how poor their tolerance level for views different from theirs. Going to court just makes this fanatisim official. The nonsense of Raghu ( Swami something, it’s too long a name to memorize) Bawa, Dinesh has made this organization look militant. In fact, Shobha Dey wrote on her blog, after being attacked by Aol-ers, for statements she made and opiniond she expressed when the accidental shooting took place, that the followers only reflect the behevior of their guru. So true. Had I still been with AoL, I’d be really upst that my money is being utilized for such causes. I do hope you’re not going to shut down this blog, and if shut down, other mirror blogs crop up.

  14. The Doctor permalink
    January 4, 2011 9:32 pm

    For anyone who may be wondering, Google has only been subpoenaed for the identities of those users named in the document linked in Skywalker’s original post above, and no one else.

  15. Jai BS Dev permalink
    January 4, 2011 11:13 pm

    Money corrupts the ordinary man. Even if selling spirituality with an Indian twist, all dollars are used for abuse, legal fees, buildings , real estates and other businesses.
    AOL is filled with ordinary people with little spirituality.

    AOL is an example of spitirituality misused and abused. AOL needs to be exposed in the Indian subcontinent for cheating people with pyramid scheme methods.
    By using the US courts (with political clout and $), they feel can hush it in Europe and Asia where the people and media think and work differently.

  16. Naren Bhat permalink
    January 5, 2011 2:22 am
      Why not release the identities of these six people preemptively and dismiss the court case ? Is there anything to hide?
    • The Doctor permalink
      January 5, 2011 6:18 am

      Releasing the identities of these six people serves no purpose other than to leave these individuals and their families open to harassment and other forms of abuse from Art of Living.

      • Jai Mafia Dev permalink
        January 5, 2011 10:49 pm

        The local chapters act as mobsters and harass with directions from VVM, AOL upper chain of command when they sense a threat or see that a person is moving away from AOL with all the ugly tactics.
        You are somehow indepted for life and that is fXXXXKING seva. You pay the course fee for the service rendered but tethered down for life by various tactics. Once the identities are released, there will be elaborate means to censure, ostarize,blame, introduce guilt and threaten the individual and their family. That is the norm. That will be the end of free speech as we know it in good old USA once the the court force to reveal identity to curtail anybody against them. Copyright violation is next tactics after using words like terrorrists earlier.
        AOL = WHAT A SHAME

  17. January 5, 2011 5:36 am

    Information sought for followings:
    Plaintiff seeks information sufficient to identify the user data and account holder of:
    (1) the individual(s) who established and maintain control of the blog located at aolfree.wordpress.com; (2) and the WordPress usernames
    “Skywalker,” “Peaceful Warrior, .. “.Prosecutor,” and “Aolwhistleblower”; and (3) the Gravatar
    profiles for “Aolwhistleblower, .. “.Mcauthon, .. “.Skyklim,” and “artoflivingfeedback” associated with the blog

  18. Anonymous permalink
    January 5, 2011 4:49 pm

    AOL Sucks…I will post the reasons for this pretty soon.

  19. Observer permalink
    January 6, 2011 6:45 am

    Another suggestion – keep a mirror of the blog in any blog hosting site based in India – that way you cannot be pestered this easily.

  20. Helen Palmer permalink
    February 28, 2011 4:01 am

    Here’s what happened when Prem Rawat (TPRF, Divine Light Mission, Words of Peace, Elan Vital…..) tried to silence it’s ex members. Remind Google of this:

    Not only did they complain to ex-premie.org’s hosts, but Elan Vital (via its lawyers) also complained to Google.

    On April 24, 2003, Stroock, Stroock and Lavan also sent a letter to Google, very similar to the one sent to EPO’s host.

    In that letter, EV complains about Google caching those 65 infamous pages (see above) – allegedly violating EV’s copyrights, and threatens Google with legal action if they didn’t immediately remove the offending pages from their cache (see copy of EV’s letter to Google).

    It looks like Google is familiar with these sort of threats, and wasn’t impressed by EV’s lawyers’ letter. And something that Stroock, Stroock and Lavan (and Elan Vital) probably didn’t expect happened: Google sent a copy of the letter to the “Chilling Effects” website.

    Chilling Effects is a “joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and University of Maine law school clinics” that’s been set in order to illustrate how “some individuals and corporations are using intellectual property and other laws to silence other online users. Chilling Effects encourages respect for intellectual property law, while frowning on its misuse to ‘chill’ legitimate activity”.

    And the case of EV’s complain to Google (“Premies” Complain to Google of “Ex-Premie.org” Site) is used by Chilling Effects to illustrate how law can be used to try to silence critics !!

    We didn’t expect so much support !!

Trackbacks

  1. I’m being sued by a religious cult. « Beyond The Art of Living
  2. Putting Art of Living in the ‘Hot Seat’ « Beyond The Art of Living
  3. The Lawsuit is Over … and We Won! « Further Beyond the Art of Living

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