Wednesday, May 19, 2010

U.S. Judge Sides With Anonymous Online Flamers

Bob Egelko writes on The San Francisco Chronicle:

In a victory for anonymous critics of corporations, a federal judge in San Francisco has rejected a company's attempt to force Yahoo to identify the online commenter who called the firm's chief executive a "known liar" who believes "humanity exists to be fleeced."

"The First Amendment protects the rights of individuals to speak anonymously," U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said in ruling against USA Technologies. She said a target of anonymous online attacks must have evidence that the postings violated its rights and caused serious harm before enforcing a subpoena to disclose the speaker's identity.

USA Technologies filed a suit in its home state of Pennsylvania in August 2009 against the poster known as Stokklerk and sent a subpoena to Yahoo, which hosts a message board about the company, demanding the person's Web address. The suit claimed defamation and securities fraud, alleging that Stokklerk had financial interests in denigrating the company.

More here.


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