Sep 152009
 September 15, 2009  Posted by  Court, Online

Bill Simmon is a filmmaker, blogger, board member of the Vermont ACLU, and media educator. Simmon offers his opinion on the implications of a NY court’s decision to order Google to out an anonymous blogger and alerts us to yet another case. Simmon writes, in part:

Critics of Ms. Port (and the countless anony­mous Internet trolls she’s come to repre­sent) are correct to point out that the First Amendment wasn’t written with her in mind. Who cares about the free speech rights of a New York socialite shooting spitballs at someone from the bushes? She can get sued and shamed publicly, and our civil liberties will still be per­fectly intact.

Right, except they won’t.

The First Amendment may not have been intended to protect anonymous jerks who hide behind their anonymity and behave immaturely, but not protect­ing the rights of the immature anony­mous jerks makes it harder to protect the rights of activists, whistle-blowers and others who may be accused of malicious mischievousness, but who more obvi­ously deserve protection under the law.


There’s another blogger defamation case underway right now that’s worth considering in light of Justice Madden’s opinion.

Last year a former employee of Cash4Gold (yes, that Cash4Gold — the one with all the late-night commercials offering to send you a check for your old jewelry and gold fillings) wrote an anony­mous blog post on a site called Com­plaintsBoard. com, exposing the compa­ny’s alleged shady business practices. In response, Cash4Gold’s lawyers began sending letters and have filed a defama­tion suit against the former employee, the blog in question and The Consumerist, a Gawker Media blog that merely reported on the story.

I don’t know if the defendant’s allega­tions are true or not, but if so, her First Amendment rights ought not be consid­ered “illusory” by the courts.

Read more in The Burlington Free Press.

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