California Court: Only Reveal Anonymous Commenters If They're The People This Guy Thinks They Are
from the too-clever? dept
We’ve been discussing a lot of different cases involving anonymity of online commenters lately, and Sam Bayard has the details on a case in California where the judge appears to have come up with a (too?) clever solution to the question of protecting anonymity. Rather than directly reveal the commenters, the judge says that the guy who wants to know their identity can hire an independent third party (at the guy’s own expense) who will get the IP addresses and investigate the identities. But, he also has to provide that third party with a list of names who he thinks are responsible. If the names associated with the IP addresses match up with the names on the list, they’ll be revealed. If not, the commenters remain anonymous.
Now, the details of this particular case are quite a bit different than the typical cases involving anonymous commenters. Specifically, most such cases involve people pissed off at the commenters and wishing to sue them. In this case, the guy (Calvin Chang) is involved in an employment discrimination/breach of contract dispute with UC Davis, and believes some of the commenters on a certain blog post (about his case) work for the university and posted details that prove a breach of an earlier settlement. So, he’s not looking to sue them, but wants to use their identities as evidence in his ongoing case.
Thus, you can sort of understand where the judge is coming from. The identities themselves don’t matter at all if they’re not employed by the university. But if they are among those employed by the university and prove that the university breached an agreement, then suddenly their identities could be more important. Still, I tend to think that unless the person suing can present full evidence of a violation, the right to anonymity should prevail.
Filed Under: anonymity