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.

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Comments on “California Appeals Court Supports Right To Anonymous Posting”

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15 Comments
Hulser says:

Re: 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.

Ehren E. Turner (user link) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.”

Wayne (user link) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

me (user link) says:

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

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