news analysis and commentary

See You in Court

Are you posting anonymous comments on websites and blogs? How safe is your identity? Can you remain anonymous when you post a comment? In the state of North Carolina, you may remain anonymous when making contributions to online sites.

However, an Indiana Judge recently offered a ruling on how site visitors’ private information should be handled in the future. The ruling may compel companies to divulge the identifying information of people who post comments on their websites or blogs. For example, a slanderous comment that works itself into court may result in a subpoena, not only for the alleged slanderer, but also for the all of the users in the discussion thread where the defamation occurred. Many anonymous commentators feared this day would come.

In the future, companies may change the way they engage their website visitors when gathering identifying data from the user. Firms may also have to monitor and moderate the posts as they are submitted.

On the other hand, the visitors might change the way they engage a website where user contributions are posted and archived. The users might falsify their identity or they may choose to do business on a different Internet site.

Other states are keeping this case under close watch and consideration. This type of ruling may be coming to your state soon.

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