Don't Expect Veil of Anonymity with Online Communication

Lora Bentley

Thursday, I wrote about Google being required to reveal the identity of an "anonymous" blogger who was being accused of defamation. Friday morning, I spoke with Craig Carpenter, VP and general counsel of Recommind. He agrees with most who have taken the time to comment on the ruling to this point. It will change the way people act online. "Frankly," he said, "I'm surprised it hasn't hit the legal blogging circuit."

 

The whole case is indicative of a trend he and his colleagues see among end users and how they think about and treat digital data. "People have this idea with electronic data that they're anonymous, that they're protected behind the veil of anonymity... and that the data just kind of goes away, or disappears....You make a blog post, you send an e-mail. you tweet on something, and it's gone...Nothing could be further from the truth."

 

Not only is the document created online now in an archive somewhere forever, but just as it's difficult to maintain context in an e-mail, it's difficult to maintain the context of a blog post or a tweet. In fact, Carpenter says Twitter showcases "the same phenomenon -- but on steroids." There are so many discrete transactions, and a lot of them are posted "in passing" such that people don't even think about what they are saying. There's more danger of liability there, according to Carpenter, but no one thinks much about it.

 

We agreed that the moment someone is held liable for a tweet, things will change. "And it's going to happen," he says.



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Aug 22, 2009 7:34 AM Michael Roberts Anonymous Blogger bounty hunter Michael Roberts Anonymous Blogger bounty hunter  says:

This ruling was wonderful news for the many thousands of individuals that have fallen victim to the malicious smear campaigns of anonymous bloggers. For some reason over the past decade, malicious practitioners of anonymous blogging (the minority I'm sure) seem to have got it into their heads that they are untouchable, moreover that this status is a matter of unconditional privilege. The result has been an exponential explosion of boisterous and relentless narcissist who smear their electronic poop over all and sundry.

The fact remains that despite the legal system's inability to keep up with this technology, all speech is not free. If someone wishes to demean another, truth lies or otherwise, there is a price to be paid by someone. If the derogatory comments are based substantially on fact, and revealing those faxed to the community is a benefit to the common good, then I take no issue with the practice. However, if the smears are deceptive or twisted truth, then I am passionately against it and will do all in my power to help victims find these cowards. Furthermore, even if an individual takes a poor life decision and another person is aware of these facts, this is no reason to publish them, unless of course it is for the communities could such as sexual predators, white-collar criminals etc. Otherwise, we would do well to just mind their own business in such things.

Unless somebody has personally experienced the anguish associated with these universally available 24/7 cyber smears against their good name, they simply can't relate to how painful it is.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Roberts of Rexxfield.com

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