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Anonymity? Think again: Indiana Paper Forced to Identify Anonymous Commenters

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posted on Mar, 7 2011 @ 04:56 PM
Your ATS cover might just be blown...

Ruling in Indiana Forces Paper to Identify Anonymous Commenters

Beware, anonymous hordes of the internet. Next time you say something nasty about someone online, your identity could be revealed. That’s what a judge in Indiana ruled recently in a defamation case against the The Indianapolis Star. The lawsuit was filed by Jeffrey Miller, an executive at something called Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, who didn’t like what some people were saying about him on Star comment boards.

The ruling forced The Star to turn over info like IP addresses and internet providers, after which an attorney can subpoena the provider for real names. While it’s a win for Mr. Miller, others are thinking about the wider implications of the case, mainly whether this will have a chilling effect on speech on the internet. The Star points out the possible ramifications:

“We are seeing more and more defamation lawsuits being filed, that’s clear,” said David Hudson, a First Amendment scholar at the First Amendment Center, affiliated with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Hudson said the public should be concerned if anonymous comments on public websites begin drying up because of the fear of lawsuits. “If this happens, then people will be less likely to comment” on public issues, he said.

That certainly could be true. If people feel like they are going to get sued for defamation, they certainly would think twice about writing something on a message board. At the same the time, having no legal recourse when getting defamed isn’t so great either. Miller’s attorney Kevin Betz defended the decision: “This is not an assault on the shield law … In fact, it is well within the bounds of the traditional terms of the shield law … I don’t think these people are advancing any cause of democracy or purposeful free speech.”

Just so ya know...

edit on 7-3-2011 by loam because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 7 2011 @ 05:02 PM
There are so many ways around this. There are programs that hide your Ip address. So anonymity will continue. Not to concerned.

posted on Mar, 7 2011 @ 05:02 PM
Of course, here is another way to look at the T&C....

If followed, it likely PROTECTS your ass from trouble...

Novel perspective, huh?

posted on Mar, 7 2011 @ 05:04 PM
reply to post by Whereweheaded

Of course, how many actually do that? Did you in making the post you just made?

The real point is that people should think before hitting the submit button.

posted on Mar, 7 2011 @ 05:12 PM
The thing is, just because you're posting on a Web site, still doesn't allow you to commit libel or slander. You can't do it in a letter to a newspaper, magazine or op-ed piece on TV. Obviously, you can get away with it just by taking a few basic steps to hide your IP, but that doesn't change the law. Then again, trying to shut down every libelous or slanderous comment ever made about you on the Web makes pushing a rick uphill for the rest of eternity seem tame by comparison. Some people just need to grow a thicker skin.

BTW there's been plenty of cases like this one before, so if you insist upon making false, libelous statement about someone on the Web, and you want to get away with it, then learn to use a proxy. Of course if your statements are true, then your not committing libel or slander.

posted on Mar, 7 2011 @ 05:35 PM
reply to post by loam

How the heck can they actually prove anything.

There are too many ways to fake an IP address.

And even if you did get the address how do you know who actually used the computer?

All I have to say is DENY DENY DENY

posted on Mar, 7 2011 @ 05:36 PM
One other thing to consider... If you live in a house with ten people - and all have access through the same computer... How the heck can they pin any comment on any one individual?

posted on Mar, 7 2011 @ 05:56 PM
All you need to do is preface your comments with something like...

I heard that...


SWIM said that ....

Problemo solvedo

posted on Mar, 7 2011 @ 07:01 PM
I wonder if there have been cases in the past where ATS has been asked to reveal information on a user who was being slanderous, which seems to happen on occasion here.

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