Delaware Chief Justice Suggests Plaintiffs Just Blog Back

Posted on January 14, 2006

In a recent case where an individual sued over comments posted by an anonymous blogger and tried to force the ISP to reveal the blogger's identity the Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court had an interesting comment: "plaintiffs harmed by a blog have an instant remedy available: blogging themselves." An article in the The Register has more details on the case (see the bototm of the article):

Most of the US cases in this area relate to defamation actions. In one recent case, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that a council official, suing over remarks posted online by an unknown blogger, could force the blogger's ISP to reveal his identity. The official first had to prove that the remarks were capable of a defamatory meaning -- which he failed to do, according to Chief Justice Myron Steele.

"Blogs and chat rooms tend to be vehicles for the expression of opinions; by their very nature, they are not a source of facts or data upon which a reasonable person would rely," wrote the Chief Justice. He added that plaintiffs harmed by a blog have an instant remedy available: blogging themselves.

In the above the case the anonymous blogger's privacy was protected. This case was decided before a recent law that includes text that could potentially be used against anonymous blogs, emails or message board comments. There has been a lot of debate about this law recently signed President Bush. People defending the law argue that it was only intended for VOIP but the Washington Post reports that the broad use of the word "annoy" has many lawyers and privacy activists concerned.

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