Far-right commentator Yemini plans more court action to identity PRGuy

Key points

  • Right-wing polemicist Avi Yemini will go back to court to compel Telstra to unveil the identity of the person behind high-profile political account @PRGuy17.
  • Twitter have complied with the Federal Court order obtained by Yemini to release information connected to the account.
  • In a statement sent to The Age sent via Twitter, PRGuy said: “I categorically reject, in the strongest of terms, all and any of the totally baseless allegations that I am either Hillary Clinton, or a politician’s cat.”

Right-wing polemicist Avi Yemini has vowed to return to court, this time seeking information from Telstra in his quest to unveil the identity of high-profile Twitter user @PRGuy17.

Yemini obtained a Federal Court order last week directing Twitter to hand over the account details of the left-wing commentator, who Yemini is intending to sue over social media posts he says defamed him.

@PRGuy17 is a popular pro-Labor Twitter account.Credit:Twitter

Twitter complied with that order and supplied Yemini with several IP addresses – unique numbers that identify a device on the internet – but he now needs Telstra to identify the holder of the addresses. The name and email provided by Twitter did not offer enough information to identify the owner of the account.

Telstra said that due to privacy reasons, it only discloses the holder of an IP address when compelled by a court order. It said it had not yet received a request from Yemini.

“Customers can access their personal phone records and metadata via an online form, but only the account holder can request this information. Any other request needs to be made via a lawful request from the appropriate authorities,” a spokesman told The Age.

PRGuy became a lightning rod for political controversy during the pandemic, posting a steady stream of comments supporting the Andrews government and gaining 90,000 followers.

Created in March 2020 using The Simpsons character Troy McClure as its avatar, the account quickly became one of the most vociferous cheerleaders of the Victorian government’s pandemic response.

As the account’s following grew, PRGuy and their followers repeatedly clashed with politicians, journalists and other commentators who were critical of Premier Daniel Andrews and other Labor figures.

Yemini, a correspondent for Canadian alt-right website Rebel News, which was connected to the anti-lockdown movement, said the account owner has used a virtual private network, or VPN, to mask their IP address since it was created but had occasionally logged in without activating the shield.

“We 100 per cent will unmask the account as we now have five separate unprotected IP addresses where the account holder failed to activate the VPN before logging in,” he said.

Avi Yemini, pictured at an Invasion Day rally in 2020, wants to find out who is behind the @PRGuy17 Twitter account so that he can pursue defamation against them.Credit:Rachael Dexter

“We have several direct hits using the same IP addresses at different times, meaning that we think Telstra can tell us who it is.”

Web security consultant Troy Hunt said Telstra can link an IP address to an individual through their account and payment system and that telecommunication providers often had to hand over information about account holders in criminal justice contexts.

“When you authenticate to an internet service provider and give payment information, they [the provider] will assign an IP address to you. The purpose of a VPN is to protect an IP address.”

“Once there’s a court order, local providers have to comply.”

In 2020, Optus was ordered to disclose the details of a customer accused of defaming a Melbourne dentist through a Google review.

Optus was served with a subpoena to produce documents that would unmask the writer of a negative review.

The specifics of the defamation claim being pursued by Yemini have not yet been lodged in court because the defendant has yet to be identified.

In a statement sent to The Age via Twitter, PRGuy did not respond to specific questions, saying only: “I categorically reject, in the strongest of terms, all and any of the totally baseless allegations that I am either Hillary Clinton or a politician’s cat.”

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