Discovery Ordered Regarding Identification of Anonymous Web-Posters: In In re Anonymous Online Speakers, 2011 WL 61635 (9th Cir. Jan. 7, 2011), the Ninth Circuit addressed for the first time whether and when a provider of online content must disclose the identities of individuals who have used pseudonyms when making website posts. The answer, the court held, depends on the type of speech involved.
The defendant had allegedly facilitated an online smear campaign against the plaintiff via postings on the defendant’s websites. On First Amendment grounds, the defendant refused to reveal the identities of the individuals posting on its websites. The plaintiff moved to compel, and the pseudonymous posters contested the motion.
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