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New Jersey Judge Shields Anonymous Blogger 61

netbuzz brings us an update to a case we discussed earlier this month: "In a widely watched free-speech case, a New Jersey judge has upheld a blogger's right to criticize county officials anonymously. The contention of those officials was that the blogger is actually a former mayor/attorney being sued by the local government for malpractice. This comes less than a month after the Electronic Frontier Foundation began their legal efforts to shield the blogger, claiming that the subpoena for Google to release his identity was 'part of an unrelated and unauthorized campaign to embarrass or otherwise outmaneuver the Defendant.' Score one for the First Amendment."
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New Jersey Judge Shields Anonymous Blogger

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  • First amendment? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @11:06AM (#21790650)
    The first amendment is afaik only about saying your mind freely. Not that you may do it anonymously.

    Now, in our times this is pretty much the same, but you know how technicalities are usually used to circumvent constitutional rights. I wouldn't deem it impossible that we'll soon see a movement that yes, you may say what you want, but we want to know who you are. Of course we won't limit your freedom to say what you want, and that van in front of your apartment is really just a pizza truck that has been delivering for days, the amount of speeding tickets you got recently just means that you had really bad luck getting caught and that your kids get worse marks now is just a result of them slacking.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 22, 2007 @11:17AM (#21790734)
    You mean like publishing a bunch of articles under the name Publius.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 22, 2007 @11:20AM (#21790758)
    Soon be a movement? You mean that hasn't been going on since (or before) long-range wiretapping became possible thanks to satellite technology? You mean it hasn't been gathering more and more acceptance thanks to the 'war on terror'?

    I've been worried about the fact that few people worry about this for a while now... Is it the sense of powerlessness? Do people feel there's no real hope to change it? Or do they really not notice?

    Free speech carries implicit the right to speak freely even under a pseudonym -- and legally, people have the right to assume whatever name they want, as long as they are not doing it in order to commit fraud/etc. I'm not sure why it wouldn't apply if someone didn't choose to explicitly use a pseudonym -- or why, indeed, legalistically speaking, the name of the site can't be consider pseudonymistic. It's another example of how the laws of pen and paper can't be broadly applied in the digital realm.


    Go, Jersey Judge, go!
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @11:54AM (#21790992)
    Law? Oh, don't worry. There won't be a single law that cuts into your right to say anything you want. You may say whatever you please, I don't see anything in the quote you offer that says I must not be required to identify myself to say it. I can still say anything I want.

    You can form any kind of group you want, you can say and propagate whatever you want, no problem there. Requiring someone to identify himself isn't against the 1st, as long as you don't keep him from saying it altogether.

    The only thing that will happen is that current laws will be used to harrass you. There's plenty to keep you busy.
  • by tietokone-olmi ( 26595 ) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @03:53PM (#21792586)

    The first amendment is afaik only about saying your mind freely. Not that you may do it anonymously.

    Speaking as an european, I would point out that your constitution's first amendment does not require that in order for speech to count for freedom of speech that its originator would have to be positively identifiable at all times. I'd like to warn you against taking such fundamental things according to the most restrictive interpretation possible.

    Now, freedom of speech as guaranteed by your constitution in the "the state shall make no law (but private parties are exempt because they're not the gub'mint)" sense would be all good and fine... but only if all power resided in the government. As we both well know, there's plenty of power outside the government(s) these days: corporations are the obvious example. Your employer has power to fire you if you e.g. express opinion contrary to that approved by his abstract ass.

    Therefore in order to realistically exercise one's right to free speech regardless of circumstance and content, as intended by your constitution's first amendment, one must be able to do so without fear of repercussion. This implies, no, requires anonymity where desired by the speaker. Let the listener beware! Was that not one of the ideals on which your country's liberties are founded upon?

  • by OldSchool ( 725426 ) on Saturday December 22, 2007 @03:55PM (#21792602)
    IANAL, but the US Constitution does not GRANT any rights. It notes that "We hold these TRUTHS to be self evident, that all men are CREATED equal, that they are endowded by THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

    The Constitution, specifically the Bill Of Rights, PROTECTS these rights from being infringed by the government. It does not grant them.

    A minor but important point that is often overlooked.

    At least that's what they taught me in the Old School.

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