There are a couple of interesting new posts around the blogosphere concerning anonymous online commenters. The first, over at Volokh, discusses a recent case out of Tennessee, State v. Cobbins, where a judge denied defendants’ motion to require a media outlet to disable a portion of its Web site enabling Web users to post comments (mostly anonymous) about the pending case. Defendants argued that the site comments could prejudice jurors. The judge denied the motion for a variety of reasons, noting the importance of the First Amendment rights at stake:
The right to speak anonymously extends to speech via the Internet. Internet anonymity facilitates the rich, diverse, and far ranging exchange of ideas. The “ability to speak one’s mind” on the Internet “without the burden of the other party knowing all the facts about one’s identity can foster open communication and robust debate.” People who have committed no wrongdoing should be free to participate in online forums without fear that their identity will be exposed under the authority of the court.
Read more on Legal Blog Watch. The blog entry goes on to discuss the recent trend on some legal blogs to require commenters to provide their real name and email address.