EFF Asks Illinois Appellate Court to Block Unmasking of Anonymous Online Critic

Electronic Frontier FoundationThe Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Media Freedom and Information Access Practicum (MFIA) at Yale Law School filed a friend-of-the-court brief today urging the Illinois Court of Appeals to block the unmasking of an anonymous online critic of a local political candidate.

The critic, commenting on a story on the website of a suburban Chicago newspaper called the Daily Herald, engaged in a heated debate with other commenters. One turned out to be the son of the village trustee candidate in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, who was discussed in the article. The candidate, Lisa Stone, who eventually won her race, asked a state court to order the newspaper to release the critic’s name and address without appropriately showing that the statements directed towards her son were defamatory or otherwise illegal. Stone indicated that she may choose to subsequently file a lawsuit once she determines the critic’s identity through the pre-complaint procedure.

“Because of the enormous potential for abuse, the First Amendment requires litigants to demonstrate that they have a legitimate case before they can use the courts to unmask anonymous online critics,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “Insults are not enough, especially when the conversation takes place in the context of a political campaign.”

In November, a lower court granted Stone’s pre-lawsuit request for her critic’s identity, incorrectly arguing that a narrow disclosure to Stone would adequately protect the speaker’s First Amendment rights. The court stayed the disclosure requirement in light of the speaker’s appeal. In its amicus brief filed today, EFF and MFIA argue that this low standard for unmasking an anonymous speaker has a chilling effect on all manner of anonymous speech, political or otherwise. Continue reading.

Related Posts

How to layout and design an infographic in R For R fans and infographics lovers out there (I'm one of you), here's an article that shows how to layout and design an infographic in R. Here's ho...
Privacy International announces the “Eyes Wide Open” project Eyes Wide Open is a new project from Privacy International, a UK Charity. The goals of the project are to: 1. Pry open the Five Eyes arrangement an...
Italian govt agencies to consider Free Software before commercial software The Italian Digital Agency has recommended that its government's agencies consider Free Software alternatives before purchasing licenses for commercia...
Arduino Leonardo Touch Board makes any project interactive Touch Board is an Arduino-compatible device from Bare Conductive Ltd, a technology outfit based in London, UK. A simple device powered by an Arduin...
Over a hundred schools using open source More than a hundred schools across Finland are using open source for all of their desktop PCs, according to Opinsys, an open source services provider....
Privacy Badger beta released. Install it on Firefox and Chrome The Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced the release of Privacy Badger beta. This comes roughly three months after the alpha version was relea...

We Recommend These Vendors

Launch an SSD VPS in Europe, USA, Asia & Australia on Vultr's KVM-based Cloud platform starting at $5:00/month (15 GB SSD, 768 MB of RAM).

Deploy an SSD Cloud server in 55 seconds on DigitalOcean. Built for developers and starting at $5:00/month (20 GB SSD, 512 MB of RAM).


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*