A California judge in the Sixth Appellate District in Santa
Clara County last week ruled that anonymous trolls on the Internet are allowed
to stay anonymous. Along with remaining anonymous, Internet trolls are
able to say what they like, by exercising their First Amendment rights, no
matter how belittling is it.
According to Reuters, the appeals court reversed
a decision from 2006 that would have subpoenaed ten anonymous posters on
Yahoo’s message board by the COO of a drug service company, Lisa Krinsky.
The 2006 court
case held that ten anonymous message board posters left quite a few harsh
comments on the Internet regarding Krinsky, her company, and two officers at
her company. One comment referred to Krinsky saying, "I will reciprocate
felatoin [sic] with Lisa even though she has fat thighs, a fake medical degree,
'queefs' and has poor feminine hygiene."
Doe 6, a tag given to the anonymous posters, days later
moved in superior court to quash the subpoena. The defendant claims that
Krinsky had “failed to state a claim sufficient to overcome his First Amendment
rights for either defamation or interference with a contractual or business
relationship” and that her “request for injunctive relief was an invalid prior
In 2006, the superior court proposed that the statements
made by Doe 6 had the intent of driving down the price of Krinsky’s company to
manipulate the stock price. The court, even with the claim and
information, decided that Doe 6 was protected under their First Amendment
rights. Due to the context of the statements, they are not actionable
under Florida’s defamation laws.
The controversy over Internet anonymity will continue to be
fueled by contexts of libel and First Amendment rights but will, at least,
allow the contexts of these actions to be narrowed down.
quote: The appellate court concluded that while Doe 6's messages were "unquestionably offensive and demeaning," they could not be counted as defamation since they could not be considered assertions of fact.