One Way To Reveal Anonymous Posters: Subpoena The Sites They Read
from the rights-to-privacy? dept
We’ve written many times in the past about how courts have protected anonymous speech in the US, but that doesn’t mean that some won’t go to ridiculous lengths to reveal anonymous commenters they don’t like. Last summer, we wrote about the ridiculous lawsuit over some anonymous “mean” postings on a forum for law school students. The case involved students claiming that they were unable to get jobs due to mean comments on the boards. It seems like quite a stretch to think law firms would judge their hiring decisions on such a thing, but the law students in question apparently needed someone to blame for their inability to get jobs.
Of course, revealing who those anonymous posters are isn’t easy, thanks to that previously mentioned respect for the right to be anonymous. So, it appears that lawyers for the plaintiffs are taking a rather indirect route to reveal the anonymous posters. Since the posters had linked to web pages that mention the plaintiffs, the lawyers are now seeking a subpoena on the log files of the sites that had those articles. Yes, this is a huge stretch, as they’re basically searching for a needle in a haystack, trying to pick out of the logfiles exactly who visited a particular news story. Even though some of the companies in question have pointed out that it’s impossible to provide this data, the lawyers are still seeking a subpoena from the court demanding it. If the law students in question put half the effort they’re putting into this lawsuit into finding a job, rather than worrying about what people said about them, perhaps this wouldn’t be an issue at all.