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A California judge reversed decision allowing anonymous persons on net to remain anonymous

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 restraint”.

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.

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By Oregonian2 on 2/12/2008 5:26:26 PM , Rating: 5
I think this (and comments) are making a mountain out of a molehill. I also surprisingly agree with the ruling although I recognize some fuzzy edges that are troubling.

An anonymous comment is worth the credibility of the person posting it. It's worth the authority and reputation of the person doing the posting.

In other words, an anonymous poster's posting is worth pretty much nothing other than the strength of argument within the posting itself. Assertions without backing of argument or personal authority are worth nothing. However there seem to be those that take anonymous banter for more than it's worth, and I think that a problem with those postings (the fuzzy edge).

Even this posting of mine is only worth as much as the opinion people have of me from my other postings (or my arguments within), I'm essentially anonymous like most all postings here (even if we're only semi-anonymous since some know who "we" are, most have no idea who I am -- I may even live in Arkansas for all one knows).

That said, what I'm writing here really isn't my free speech. It's DailyTECH's free speech. This is their publication, not mine -- which also is why they could delete my posting if they see fit. And may have been the right thing to do in the anonymous postings done in the court case.

RE: Molehills
By uhgotnegum on 2/12/2008 5:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
I would still argue that your post is your free speech, not DailyTech's. The Comments section is there specifically to differentiate between what DailyTech claims as theirs and what we the readers claim as ours. I doubt any reasonable person would consider a comment to be DailyTech's, unless it's a post by one of those guys with nifty DailyTech logos next to their names.

I agree that DailyTech moderates the comments section and provides that space for us to post, but I have a feeling (i.e., I'm assuming) that they would find it hypocritical to censor anyone without having an overwhelmingly good reason. Plus, DailyTech specifically disclaims responsibility for the comments of its readers, which leaves you with your speech still....So, congratulations!

RE: Molehills
By just4U on 2/12/2008 7:51:49 PM , Rating: 4
DailyTech is one thing, but there are other forums out there as well that are heavily moderated for content. I've seen Trolls say it's their "right" to say as they choose but it's not. If you've become a member of a forum (international or otherwise) You usually agree to post by their rules. If you don't then they can ban you, edit your posts, delete them or what have you....

... and there is not a damned thing you can do about it. It's their site. Abide by their rules or face moderation.

As to remaining Anonymous while posting. I don't see a problem with that. As a rule of thumb, most forums don't give out your identity. Occasionally they might delete multiple accounts if it's part of their guidelines but I've yet to see any say your so and so openly.

RE: Molehills
By TomZ on 2/12/2008 8:53:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're missing the point about freedom of expression. It's not a question about whether DT or other forums allow you to post as you please or if they censor. The point is that the government has no right to restrict you from posting what you please, and that they have no recourse against you for posting your opinions (within the limits of the law, of course).

RE: Molehills
By Oregonian2 on 2/13/2008 1:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
What I write here really is DailyTech's free speech simply because they CAN delete what I write and do it perfectly legally. IOW my "free speech" is NOT being violated if DailyTech decides to censor me. If DailyTech decides not to censor anybody, that's their right too, and that would effectively give me free speech here, but it really isn't because they have the power and right to censor me anyway. The government does not have the right to censor what I say here (if not something illegal such as a state secret or the like) but if they did, it would be DailyTech that's being censored because they are the publisher who has the choice and power to decide what gets published and what doesn't. It's their forum, not mine -- I'm only a user of it (and thank them for it).

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