Feeds

Web anonymity affirmed by NJ judge

John Does keep their shirts

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Kenneth MacKenzie on Tuesday affirmed the anonymity of four 'John Doe' defendants accused of publishing unkind and false statements about the company for which they work.

Morristown-NJ sales consultancy outfit Dendrite International had sought the true identities from Internet portal Yahoo! of the four critics, identified in court papers as 'ajcazz,' 'gacbar,' 'xxplrr' and 'implementor extrodinaire'.

The unmasking of anonymous on-line critics as part of the evidence discovery process has been widely denounced. The danger is that companies would get the skinny on people in their employ, against whom they could retaliate, without actually going to trial.

In many cases of bad-faith discovery, the company has too little evidence to pursue a court action; in other cases they merely want to spare themselves the expense of a trial. Once a discovery motion is approved and satisfied, the company is at liberty to retaliate against the employee in-house, presumably with an involuntary transfer to some exceptionally undesirable post from which the whistle-blower will undoubtedly resign.

A recent ruling in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in which a judge sought the identities of anonymous on-line critics, also shot down the notion of unmasking critics before actual libel or other harm can be substantiated.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin had sought the identities of anonymous authors on a Web site which accused her of lobbying on behalf of an attorney seeking the coveted black robes. Melvin filed a defamation lawsuit seeking disclosure of the author's name.

In hearing the evidence Judge Stanton Wettick found that "anonymous Internet speakers, unlike the national media, are vulnerable because they lack power or money. Without anonymity, speakers will be less willing to express controversial positions because of fears of reprisal."

Judge Wettick ruled that an anonymous author's identity must not be disclosed until s/he is given an opportunity to argue and produce evidence that the defamation lawsuit facing them is frivolous or otherwise lacking in merit. ®

Related Stories

Web anonymity under siege
How 'cybersmear' lawsuits can block free speech

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.