Anonymity

–Video by The Young Turks on YouTube

 

Courts are sometimes asked to force a website to reveal identities of  anonymous speakers. “Courts are often willing to order the unmasking when there is clearly a valid cause for a libel claim against the speaker” (See more at Anonymous speech online: When must the identity of a masked commenter be revealed? ). However, courts need to balance protecting freedom of speech and protecting citizens against defamation. Often, “If the one demanding the unmasking can show he’s got a credible libel claim, and the anonymous speaker is given an opportunity to defend himself, courts will allow the unmasking”(See more at Anonymous speech online: When must the identity of a masked commenter be revealed? ).

Generally speaking, tests courts adopt to determine whether they will force websites to reveal the identity of anonymous speakers in libel suits include five factors:

“The demanding party must make efforts to notify the anonymous commenter and allow a reasonable time for him or her to respond;

  • “the demanding party must identify the exact statements made by the commenter;
  • the demand must set forth a prima facie cause of action, meaning it must present enough evidence for the demanding party, the prospective plaintiff in the libel claim, to win the case barring any defenses or additional evidence presented by the commenter;
  • the demanding party must bring forth sufficient evidence for each element of its defamation claim; and
  • the court must balance the speaker’s First Amendment right of anonymous free speech against the strength of the prima facie case presented and the necessity for the disclosure of the anonymous commenter’s identity”(See more at Anonymous speech online: When must the identity of a masked commenter be revealed? ).

To learn more about analysis of tests in different cases, see Everyone’s A Critic: Defamation And Anonymity on the Internet and Anonymity, Disclosure And First Amendment Balancing in the Internet Era: Developments in Libel, Copyright, And Election Speech 

–Video by RT America on YouTube

 

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