California Appeals Court Supports Right To Anonymous Posting

from the another-good-ruling dept

While in other countries, courts have been much more willing to reveal anonymous online writers when someone feels someone dislikes the content, US courts have been a lot more willing to protect online anonymity. Here's yet another example. In California, an appeals court ruled that an anonymous poster on Yahoo's finance message boards could remain anonymous despite agreeing that the content was "unquestionably offensive and demeaning." However, as the court notes, offensive and demeaning content isn't illegal -- and thus the poster has every right to protect his or her anonymity. This is definitely a good ruling. All too often people assume that just because they don't like some content or feel offended by it, it must be illegal. It's good to be reminded that just because you dislike something, it's not necessarily illegal.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Old Guy, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 8:37am

    Illegal

    Yeah, otherwise most of the current senate, house, and white house would be against the law

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Old Guy, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 8:38am

    Anonymous

    Would also make any of Anonymous' postings here impossible

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 8:40am

    more importantly

    The thing we often forget is that the right to offend is much more important than the right to not be offended.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 8:46am

    And yet this site has revealed descriptive information of people that have opposed your view. Interesting, could be a slippery slope happening here.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 9:05am

    Re: more importantly

    and the right to split infinitives is inalienable

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 9:06am

    Re:

    It doesn’t mean that your identity can’t be discovered; just the courts are not going to assist in the discovery process...

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re:

    Exactly. The privacy policies of a privately held web site are a far cry away from the government having the ability to force someone's identity to be revealed. And revealing "descriptive information" is yet another far cry away from actually revealing an individual's anonymous identity. So the incident to which first commenter refers is so far away from relevent that it can't even be said to be on the same slope.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 10:26am

    Others might refer to that as hypocrisy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Ehren E. Turner, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 10:38am

    The same rules do not apply

    The law protects anonymity as long as nothing illegal is being said, which shouldn't be any surprise. However, whether something is illegal can be contingent on anonymity. For instance, if someone were to anonymously post "I'm going to kill my husband" the only way to turn their anonymous statement into a meaningful, illegal statement, would be to discover who they are. Otherwise, the threat might be meaningless. She may not be married. A worse example: suppose someone were to write, "I'm going to shoot up my school." They might be serious, or they might not even be a student (not that it would make any difference if they weren't). All kinds of merely offensive statements might actually be illegal when viewed in context- even if they were never intended to be viewed that way. So, on one hand, it's clear that law should not protect illegal *forms* of speech. Here's what worries me. If a judge deems a statement to *possibly* be threatening- thus illegal- anonymity ceases to be protected under the 1st Amendment. The law doesn't actually protect anyone from being investigated. We still have to be civilized.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 12:05pm

    Re: The same rules do not apply

    I think there's a fallacy here; I'm not sure what offensive language is being protected here, but I think there's a large difference between offensive and threatening violence. To say, "you're really dumb," is very different from, "I'm going to hunt you down and kill you."

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 12:17pm

    The court didn't really so much uphold anonymous posting as it did uphold our right to do things that aren't illegal and refuse to get involved in things that aren't any of it's business. Mike, you're an asshat for that deliberately misleading article title.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Danny, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    Hypocrisy isn't illegal. Neither is being a whiner, a douchebag, or a calamari hosebeast.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Wayne, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 2:00pm

    Calamari Doucebag...lol

    Even anonymous posting isn't entirely anonymous though. What about your IP address? Sure, there are ways around that, and the people that we should be worried about would probably have that in mind anyway, so i guess I'm not really adding much here.

    At the end of the day, our rights are being slowly, ever so slowly stripped from us, and we're allowing it to happen. We need to protest and fight the government that plans to keep us under their thumb. We the people own the government, not the other way around. I just hope we never forget that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2008 @ 2:56pm

    We own the govt? Really, not if you are a democrat. Think the people of Michigan were heard in their primary? How about their "Super Delegate" they have going, where Obama could win the primaries but the party bosses decide that Hillary should be their candidate.

    Why the hell would anyone be a democrat? They slap their own members in the face.

    Right now I support Obama. If the democratic party screws the people, I will never vote for a democrat for the rest of my life.

    What the hell was this article about again?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    me, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 4:31pm

    why girls shouldn't cheat on boys
    there was once a guy named jack who
    had a
    girlfriend
    named
    ashley.

    ashley was the most popular girl in
    school.
    the three most
    popular
    guys were
    tom, jack, and marcus. ashley
    thought of
    jack as
    okay,
    but
    she really
    liked marcus. marcus liked ashley also.
    well of
    course
    he
    did, everyone
    did!

    marcus and jack were worst enemies.
    marcus tried to
    steal
    ashley away
    everytime he had a chance to. one day,
    marcus asked
    ashley
    if
    she wanted
    to
    go to the movies. jack heard
    everything....what
    movie
    theatre
    and what
    time.

    jack approached the movies that night
    and
    followed ashley
    and
    marcus.
    jack sat right behind them. he
    watched them
    get close
    to
    each
    other and
    kiss....not only kiss, but practically
    get it
    on in the
    theatre.
    marcus
    told ashley "do you want to come to my
    place and
    skip this
    boring
    movie?" she
    replied "hell yeah."

    jack had peeked through marcus'
    window.
    ashely and
    him
    were
    messing
    around and then they had sex.
    jack watched the whole
    thing.

    the next day at school jack wasn't
    there. for
    the next
    few
    days jack
    wasn't there. a week later his mother
    found him in
    his
    closet
    dead... he
    commited suicide because he had loved
    ashley so
    much.
    next
    to
    jack's dead
    body was a note.

    a note that read: my dearest ashley, i
    watched you
    at the
    movie
    and at
    marcus' house and i will continue to
    watch you.
    i never
    thought you
    would
    do something like this to me. i really
    loved you
    ashley. i
    died
    for you just
    like jesus died for us.

    always with you, jack

    please foward this or jack will
    haunt
    you and try
    to kill you because he wants everyone
    to
    know
    about
    marcus.

    thank you.

    please scroll down.
    ['in loving memory of']
    **jack halagey**
    what jack did to one person who did
    not send
    this.......

    one girl was looking through her e-mail
    and she
    ['deleted']
    this
    message
    thinking it was another silly
    forward...the
    next day
    she
    ['was']
    ['found dead in']
    ['her bed']

    ['of course u don't have to send this
    but i
    think
    jack
    halagey' will come soon to get you like
    tonight
    when you are
    still awake just sitting in bed']

    repost this as `why girls should'nt
    `cheat on boys
    or u will
    lose
    the one u love

    if you don't believe this..search jack
    Report as Spam
    kanaya bond (permalink)12:31amWHEN U R READING THIS DONT STOP OR
    SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN! MY NAME IS
    SUMMER I AM 15 YEARS OLD i have BLONDE
    HAIR ,MANY SCARS no NOSE OR EARS.. I
    AM DEAD. IF U DONT COPY THIS JUST LIKE
    FROM THE RING, COPY N POST THIS ON 5
    MORE SITES.. OR.. I WILL APPEAR ONE
    DARK QUIET NIGHT WHEN UR NOT ExPECTING
    IT BY YOUR BED WITH A KNIFE AND KILL
    U. THIS IS NO JOKE SOMETHING GOOD WILL
    HAPPEN TO U IF YOU POST THIS ON 5 MORE
    PAGES

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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