More on the legal limits of anonymity

Serves me right for letting myself get behind on my blog reading.

Yesterday, I talked about the need for clearer standards on when a publisher gives up an anonymous poster’s identity.  As it happens, there was progress on this front just a few days ago: Ars Technica posted a good article on almost this subject.  It’s not about blogging in this case, it’s about an apparently-false anonymous whistleblowing claim, but the basic principle is close — someone is claiming to have been defamed by an anonymous claim, and wants to find out who made the claim in order to sue them.

This time, the case apparently made it up to the appeals court, which has taken the contradictory previous decisions and attempted to craft a reasonable compromise.  The article gives the exact wording, but it basically boils down to requiring the plaintiff to demonstrate both that there are reasonable grounds and that they actually need the person to be unmasked.

So yay for intelligent judges, and at least a little progress towards laws and precedents that make sense in the modern age…

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