Judge orders internet site to disclose member information regarding anonymous trolls

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I thought this was pertinent -

Forum article - ARS Technica
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I read up on some of this stuff awhile ago (for rather amusing reasons that I'm sure some of you remember), and this is big news. The article mentions the two pertinent cases -- one in Delaware, and another in California -- that had, until now, presented a strong front.

The article doesn't seem to mention anything about an appeal, or the possibility that this might be overturned, so this might all be a bit premature. If this somehow stands, I think it sets a pretty messed up precedent. That said, I'm somewhat confident that it won't stand.



Standing in the Sunlight, Laughing
wow... that comments section reads like a listing of how not to make a point.

This is a really complicated situation. I haven't given it enough thought (despite being in the hot seat on flamewar accusations a couple of times now) to have an opinion one way or the other. It will be interesting to see how the legalities work out in this case.
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So, would you all say that:

a). People have the right to be anonymous and say whatever they want to say on the internet with no reprisals..

OR

b). People should not have the right to be anonymous and should be held legally accountable for anything they say on the internet..

??

Personally I lean more toward a). as I view that kind of stuff to be similar to smack talking around the water cooler (with just a wider audience).



Anonymity, privacy, and free speech are no longer valued as they should be.
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Standing in the Sunlight, Laughing
I think it's important to remember that "free speech" does not allow for libel, slander, harassment, etc.

The line for me seems to be hovering between holding sites accountable for what they leave on the net for public consumption (forcing them to enforce non-harassment TOS that are often posted but seldom used) vs telling people that any disclosure of personal information on the net violates their right to privacy - which would mean no making friends through the internet at all, no mention of what you do for a living, no exchange of photos. I'm not comfy with either.



I think it's important to remember that "free speech" does not allow for libel, slander, harassment, etc.

The line for me seems to be hovering between holding sites accountable for what they leave on the net for public consumption (forcing them to enforce non-harassment TOS that are often posted but seldom used) vs telling people that any disclosure of personal information on the net violates their right to privacy - which would mean no making friends through the internet at all, no mention of what you do for a living, no exchange of photos. I'm not comfy with either.
well said Sammy.

As you said, slander/libel is not allowed, which is apparently what those comments devolved into. I'd say it's a matter of accountability. The defendants need to be accountable for their actions, privacy or not, after a certain line has been crossed people should own up to the consequences of their actions. Admittedly the anonymity of the internet is a beautiful thing in its own right, but it is not free license to be a (insert preferred rude word here) without fear of consequence.
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An interesting read. I don't really have anything cool to say about it though. I am continually baffled at how vicious we are to each other however. Especially considering that the couple apparently did nothing wrong or were exonerated I guess.

In a way I don't really want much to come of this. And I hope there aren't too many tax dollars spent tracking these people down.
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The People's Republic of Clogher
So, would you all say that:

a). People have the right to be anonymous and say whatever they want to say on the internet with no reprisals..

OR

b). People should not have the right to be anonymous and should be held legally accountable for anything they say on the internet..

??

Personally I lean more toward a). as I view that kind of stuff to be similar to smack talking around the water cooler (with just a wider audience).
I'm with you on that but, as others have said, once things go beyond fair comment and personal opinion to libel or slander the waters are less clear.

Unfortunately we live in a litigious society - I'm sure some of those guys standing around the water cooler have had cases brought against them. It might not be right but it happens.

The old WWII maxim 'water coolers have ears' seems apt here. Ermmm...
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does this judge ever read the comments on youtube?? those people are downright racist, sexist, xenophobic and very direct. to say the least about simply googling hate sites.

give me a break. no matter how specific we all try to make this (e.g. libel/slander of a specific person/people), this is one gigantic slippery slope, and while yes, as with radio/telecommunications, the "public" owns the airwaves, and thus the "public" has a right to enforce appropriate conduct on the "airwaves," who exactly owns the internet?

hmm. i'd love to read his legal opinion for why this is ok. libel/slander is one thing legally, and harrassment - sexual or otherwise - is another. i wasnt aware you could "defame" a private citizen. From my recollection, the libel/slander accusation is more appropriately applicable to organizations of great power (e.g. newspapers/TV stations), and suggest really that they are generating, repeating and/or disseminating a foul, unproven rumour (to be very general) about a public figure. the Leshers ARE public figures because of the accusations, but frankly, people ARE allowed to have an opinion about them. that opinion may amount to harrasment. the point about libel/slander here is that organizations like these are considered to have an ethical responsibility to share only....well.....truth. go ahead. laugh. its ok. crazy - i know. however, with regard to libel and slander, truth has always been a perfect defense. in this case, I assume that the judge felt that since the trial exonerated the Leshers, statements to the contrary are therefore untrue? a very convoluted defense, imho.

the more alarming point in all of this for me is not with the internet expression: it is the sense that this ruling is a statement by Texas that common people are no longer going allowed to disagree with the decision of courts, and by extension, the legal system.

this is ridiculous:
More specifically, Plaintiffs are private figures, the allegations concern private matters, Plaintiffs incurred actual damages, and the Defendant acted with malice as it is defined under Texas law.
Alternatively, in the event that the Court determines that the issues are public, Defendants acted
with negligence, Plaintiffs incurred actual damages, and the Defendants acted with the requisite
actual malice (under federal law) and malice (under Texas law) necessary to support a finding of
exemplary damages. Alternatively, if the court finds that the Plaintiffs are public figures and the issues themselves are public, the Plaintiffs are entitled to actual damages because the Defendants
acted with the requisite actual malice (under federal law) and malice (under Texas law)
necessary to support a finding of exemplary damages.

i also find it humorous that the petition had misspellings in it.
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The People's Republic of Clogher
A political/cultural blog site which I'm a regular at has to remove 5 or 6 user contributions a week because of libel implications. Sure, they have people there who sail close to the wind on a regular basis (including some recognised local political figures) but they have been legally challenged before and now the mods sometimes err too much on the side of caution for my liking.

It's not my hard work/money/reputation/whatever on the line, though.