Feeds

Web anonymity affirmed by NJ judge

John Does keep their shirts

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.