Posts tagged: Internet law
A longtime GOP activist and former aide to Idaho Rep. Helen Chenoweth has come forward and identified herself as “AlmostInnocentBystander,” the anonymous commenter on the Huckleberries Online blog whose comment about Kootenai County GOP Chair Tina Jacobson triggered a lawsuit from Jacobson. Linda Cook said Monday that she posted the comment; The Spokesman-Review had been ordered by a court to identify the commenter by Tuesday.
“I would say this is exactly what the First Amendment is about,” said Cook, 54, of Rathdrum, reports S-R reporter Meghann Cuniff. “If you know that someone will come and sue you, which is an expensive proposition, but what you’re bringing out is a matter of public interest, shouldn’t you be able to speak anonymously?” You can read Cuniff's full story here at spokesman.com.
S-R columnist Shawn Vestal has a provocative column today entitled, “Why defend an anonymous troll's right to insult?” in which he takes on the free-speech arguments in the current case involving an anonymous Huckleberries Online commenter whom the Spokesman-Review is being ordered by a court to identify. “A judge has ordered this newspaper to turn over information about a person who made a potentially libelous comment under an assumed name on the website,” writes Vestal. “This, of course, will have a chilling effect on free speech. A chilling effect is what we in the free-speech business always warn about. We do not want to chill speech; we want it hot and loose. This speech, though? This anonymous lobbing of insults? Chill it. Give it frostbite, even.” You can read his full column here.
The L.A. Times analyzes the Idaho court ruling ordering The Spokesman-Review to disclose the identity of an anonymous online commenter in an article today; you can read it here. “When entering the comment forum of your typical news website or blog these days, it sometimes seems like a good idea to wear a helmet,” writes reporter Kim Murphy. “Well-crafted insult? Barbed bombast? Bring it on. Often cloaked in the anonymous protection of screen names, readers feel free to unload on one another, and at the world in general, with impunity. But that protection may be an illusion.”
The Spokesman-Review must provide information that could identify an anonymous reader who typed a disparaging online comment about the chairwoman of the Kootenai County Republican Party in February, an Idaho judge ruled Tuesday. You can read our full story here at spokesman.com, and read 1st District Judge John Luster's ruling here. The judge ordered the newspaper to identify one of the three commenters targeted, but not the other two; the S-R hasn't yet decided whether to appeal.