Anonymity protected

Just caught up with this (via a Steve Rubel tweet): A New Jersey court protected an anonymous blogger criticizing local government from being unmasked by a subpoena and dragged into litigation. When I was at Advance Internet, we got frequent subpoenas, mostly from local governments — often police chiefs who were being criticized in forums and knew how to use subpoena power to get IP addresses out of us. All in all, I think this is good news for anonymity and certainly for service hosts. There are, of course, also issues about anonymity and libel. But erring against the chilling of speech is the better choice — especially when it comes to dogging government.

  • Eric Jaffa

    Reporters’ sources aren’t getting as much protection.

    A police officer can get a PEN warrant from a clerk just by stating that the warrant is needed for an investigation, and then get a list of who phoned and emailed the reporter.

    St. Paul police chief John Harrington recently used this PEN power to find out who gave a reporter public information about an arrest.

    • E.V. Debs

      The warrant is for a “Pen register,” a mechanism to track transmission of postal mail or internet communications. It does not allow for examination of the contents of such communications, merely the address (postal or internet) of the sender and recipient.

  • There’s hope for you after all Jeff.



    Your favorite sock puppet,

    – Amanda Chapel