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Court Rules in Favor of Anonymous Blogger 227

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the little-man-wins dept.
joel_archer writes "The Delaware Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a lower court decision requiring an Internet service provider to disclose the identity of an anonymous blogger who targeted a local elected official. Judge Steele described the Internet as a 'unique democratizing medium unlike anything that has come before,' and said anonymous speech in blogs and chat rooms in some instances can become the modern equivalent of political pamphleteering. 'We are concerned that setting the standard too low will chill potential posters from exercising their First Amendment right to speak anonymously,' Steele wrote."
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Court Rules in Favor of Anonymous Blogger

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  • Re:what right? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Davorama (11731) on Friday October 07, 2005 @02:49AM (#13737677) Journal
    Yeah, I didn't know about that either. An explaination is here. [cornell.edu] It appears to have to do with not supressing free speach in the form of leaflets.
  • Re:what right? (Score:5, Informative)

    by np_bernstein (453840) on Friday October 07, 2005 @02:52AM (#13737685) Homepage
    Amendment IX
    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    There is not enumerated right to privacy either, but many, if not most, constitutional scholors agree that the right to privacy is indeed a right.

  • Anonymity (Score:5, Informative)

    by YouTalkinToMe (559217) on Friday October 07, 2005 @03:20AM (#13737753)

    > ...will get you in trouble whether political or personal.

    It makes a big difference, whether it is political or personal.

    From the Electronic Privacy Information Center Archive (see http://www.epic.org/free_speech/default.html#anony mity [epic.org] for more info)

    "Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority ... It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation--and their ideas from suppression--at the hand of an intolerant society."

    In three cases, spanning from 1960 to 1999, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that sacrificing anonymity "might deter perfectly peaceful discussions of public matters of importance."

    Anonymity--the ability to conceal one's identity while communicating--enables the expression of political ideas, participation in the government process, membership in political associations, and the practice of religious belief without fear of government intimidation or public retaliation.

    Disclosure laws have been upheld only where there is a compelling government interest at stake, such as assuring the integrity of the election process by requiring campaign contribution disclosures.

  • Re:Sad (Score:5, Informative)

    by CTachyon (412849) <`ten.noyhcat-sonorhc' `ta' `sonorhc'> on Friday October 07, 2005 @03:23AM (#13737757) Homepage

    While no right to anonymous speech is spelled out in the Constitution or its Amendments, I would imagine that the founding fathers thought that anonymity was trivially implied by "[not] abridging the freedom of speech", since a law requiring "eunymity" of unpopular political speech effectively bans that speech. (Think Communist speech in the McCarthy era. Regardless of where one stands on the idea itself, Communist speech is protected by the First Amendment.)

    The Founders themselves made heavy use of the anonymous pen name Publius when writing The Federalist Papers [ou.edu] -- essentially an ad campaign for our current Constitution -- so it's easy to see where they stood on the subject when they wrote the Constitution.

  • Re:what right? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 07, 2005 @04:46AM (#13737962)
    No, you do not. Once you pee on him then you have assaulted him and being that pee is a bodily fluid then it might be considered a "deadly weapon" [google.com] in some states. This [google.com] could provide you something to read while you practice your rendition of "Mary had a little lamb". One of the oldest premises in law is that "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins" [google.com].
  • Re:Sad (Score:5, Informative)

    by thebdj (768618) on Friday October 07, 2005 @05:52AM (#13738120) Journal
    Actually anonymity did not exactly win. The case has been remanded back to the lower court. The argument before the DE Supreme Court was that the individuals in question did not establish a prima facia case and that the judge over the case used a very relaxed standard that did not provide proper first ammendment protection. Based from what I heard this site was saying, I would not be too surprised in the end if the bloggers get unmasked. Of course, in order for that to happen the people behind this will have to continue the case, but I cannot see why they wouldn't if they have gone this far.
  • by Winkhorst (743546) on Friday October 07, 2005 @07:21AM (#13738395)
    How do you breath with all that sand up your nose?

    The current crop of political bozos in Washington got there by using a whole arsenal of the tools you have just described, down to a telephone campaign in West Virginia that said that the main primary opposition candidate had a black baby out of wedlock, when in fact he had adopted a Bangladeshi child. Why were these folks not indicted, tried, convicted, sentenced, and imprisoned? What's good for the politicians isn't good for the people? You are a sad case, Sir.
  • by The-Bus (138060) on Friday October 07, 2005 @09:54AM (#13739514)
    If anyone is wondering why this is getting a (moderate) amount of national attention, it's because Delaware's cours (for whatever reason) are usually looked at as setting precedents for the rest of the country, at least until something moves beyond a state court; this is more true for corporate and business law than for the above case.

    The "blog" everyone is talking about is actually just a bulletin board [newszapforums.com] and you can see Cahill discussion is continuing on it.

    There's also local coverage of this event (which obviously got front-page news) [delawareonline.com].

    As far as the parent poster is concerned, these people are making a huge issue out of it because Smyrna is a very small town in a very small state and actions have very immediate and state-wide repercussions. (Mind you, most counties in the US are bigger than Delaware). People here try very hard here to sound important. I can only imagine the egos of some of these "bloggers" must be through the roof.
  • by Xiaran (836924) on Friday October 07, 2005 @10:10AM (#13739659)
    As a resident Londoner ou are correct. Speakers Corner is located in Hyde Park in London and various lunatics congregate there on Sundays to generally spout dribble and have argument with random onlookers. Its not terribly serious, and can actually be quite fun if you enjoy arguing with trolls and idiots(and if your a slashdotter Im thinking you probably do :) )

In every hierarchy the cream rises until it sours. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter

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