Thursday, March 03, 2011

Slippery Slope?



Judge Rules Indianpolis Star Must Identify Anonymous Posters To Website

I see this as a vehicle for more lawsuits and less free speech.

17 comments:

Always On Watch said...

Oh, this is trouble! I expect more newspapers to follow suit. **sigh**

Jan said...

I've always wondered if "informed sources" aren't anonymous emailers.

I agree, this opens up a can of snakes.

Chuck said...

I think it's a concern too.

To play devil's advocate though, how far should we go to protect someone who anonymously defames someone? Just an idle thought...

Karen Howes said...

I'm actually not a big fan of being being anonymous. Most internet trolls I've encountered are, which enables the little cowards to think they can hide.

There is no anonymity on the internet anyway.

Mustang said...

After reading the news article, I’m not sure I understand the issue, although it appears to be a situation in which anonymous individuals bully other person at an online (public) forum, and then someone sued. Is this how you see the case?

My concern is whether it is proper to accord free speech entitlement among people who refuse to identify who they are, particularly when these people bully others on a public forum. “Free speech” assumes accountability for the things we say. Take for example the woman who bullied a teenage girl into killing herself. It was free speech, but there are also consequences. Thus, if someone can demonstrate valid harm (and standing within court), shouldn’t we accord them the right of redress? Can we do that without knowing who the bullies are?

cube said...

Always On Watch: I'm of two minds about this issue. On the one hand, I don't think anyone has to the right to find out our identity if we choose to remain anonymous, but on the other hand, I don't go around defaming people on the Internet.

cube said...

Jan: Don't know about "informed sources", but I do think this will put a big chill on comments to online news sources.

cube said...

Chuck: Before I answer your question, I'd like to know the details of this defamation. Just because some bonehead shoots his mouth off on your site, it doesn't make it defamation.

When you register on online news sources, they vow to never divulge your information. This judge just turned that on its head.

You're right. It's a concern.

cube said...

Karen Howes: You make a good point about anonymity. Some of the most hateful comments come from sources which you can't track and find.

Still, I have a problem with an online news source that requires registration and vows it will never reveal your information being forced to do just that.

cube said...

Mustang: You make a valid point. My concern is how far will this be carried. Will we be sued for disagreeing with a point of view?

There are people out there who already cry racism whenever someone disagrees with Obama's views.

Brooke said...

I don't think this can fly.

If the news company is privately owned, short of obscenity I don't think that a court should tell them what or how or who to print.

Paul Champagne said...

I too have a problem with the annonoumous trolls that post comments on the internet.

However, they have a right to their opinions ... as well as the right to hide their identities so that the world can't see how truely stupid they are.

Z said...

Darn, I agree with both sides here.
But, maybe people feel fearful for their safety if they really slam someone appropriately and this means some who deserve true slamming (with facts and figures) won't be? Just a thought!

J. Noel said...

I just don't see the validity of this judge's ruling. What happened to free speech in the country?

Unless it can be proven the website owner fabricated the posts in order to inflict harm upon another person, then free speech needs to be protected.

Teresa said...

I am concerned too. This erodes privacy rights.

dmarks said...

Reading the article, I see that the root of the problem is frivolous lawsuits. We need stiff financial and/or prison terms for anyone involved in frivolous lawsuits.

Teresa: Actually, while there are free speech rights, there are no privacy rights.

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