Anonymous Online Comments? Third Circuit Says No in Recent Case.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has required an Illinois newspaper to reveal the identity of an online commenter. The case revolved around an Illinois couple who tried to convert their home to a bed and breakfast. They were unsuccessful because of city ordinances, and the story was reported by a local newspaper. In response, one commenter wrote that despite failing, the couple had tried to bribe the planning commission.

In response, the couple sued the commenter for libel, and sought the ID of the commenter to name them as a party to the suit. The Third Circuit reasoned that statements of opinion are protected as free speech, but not assertions of fact. In a 2-1 holding, the Court found the commenter’s statement was not "mere opinion," and therefore was not protected as free speech.

Illinois Newspaper Forced To Disclose Names Of Anonymous Commenters | The Huffington Post

 

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