The publisher for Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, recently used copyright laws to try and flush out a dissenter.
The publisher, which also acts as the supervisory body for this religious organization, used a DMCA notice to ask a New York court to order Google to surrender personal details and unmask the real-world identity of former YouTuber JW Apostate, who had been shedding light on the inner workings of the group.
The court subsequently granted the Watch Tower request and issued a subpoena against Google.
And now, “JW Apostate” – identified as “Jane/Joe Doe” in the explosive filing – is fighting back, asking the court to quash the DMCA subpoena.
Referring to themselves as a noted author and journalist, “JW Apostate” denounces the attempt of Jehovah’s Witnesses to learn their identity as illegal and in violation of the US Constitution’s First Amendment free speech protections, particularly in how they refer to journalists, authors, and other citizens. It’s a violation of the Reporter Schields Laws of California and New York, that protects journalists from being forced to disclose both confidential information and confidential sources.
The language of the filing at this point takes a turn for the informal, so to speak – perhaps understandably. That’s given the circumstances likely endured by the unmasking target at this point, producing worry and anger.
It’s the wording of somebody who might be at the end of their tether: “As the court well knows, the Watch Tower is an anti-government, end-of-the-world/doomsday cult run by a bunch of god damned pedophiles who think that Jeebus or God or Allah speaks to them personally telling them that it is okay to be raping a bunch of little kids and then trying to cover that shit up.”
At this point, you might have guessed that “JW Apostate” is representing themselves in this case.
The motion is peppered with more references to “angry pedophiles on stupid fishing expeditions” – and promises that those will get “burned to death in the scorching light of publicity.”
The court itself is criticized for simply “rubber stamping” Jehovah’s Witnesses’ demands to issue the Google subpoena.
The judge who granted the request is called out by name as somebody the Watch Tower is “no stranger to” – and the same goes for using DMCA applications to find out who the religious group’s critics are.
And if they are members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the consequences can be dire and get them ostracized not only by the religious group itself, but also by their family and community.
Read the filing here.