Beware, anonymous hordes of the internet. Next time you say something nasty about someone online, your identity could be revealed. That’s what a judge in Indiana ruled recently in a defamation case against the The Indianapolis Star. The lawsuit was filed by Jeffrey Miller, an executive at something called Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, who didn’t like what some people were saying about him on Star comment boards.

The ruling forced The Star to turn over info like IP addresses and internet providers, after which an attorney can subpoena the provider for real names. While it’s a win for Mr. Miller, others are thinking about the wider implications of the case, mainly whether this will have a chilling effect on speech on the internet.

This is not good.

  1. tdkyo says:


  2. madtruckman says:

    ‘While it’s a win for Mr. Miller, others are thinking about the wider implications of the case, mainly whether this will have a chilling effect on speech on the internet…’

    oh, so you mean all those trolls will now have to give their real names now?? Good….

  3. bobbo, pro's and con's to all we do says:

    I can imagine cases where our ID’s should be revealed. Can’t we all? — OK–LIEberTARDS can’t because they partake of no social responsibility.

    Likewise, I can imagine such access to be abused.

    Sadly, I don’t trust the court to tell the difference==in all cases.

    But can I offer an alternative? No.

    Therefore: let democracy rule.

  4. Mac Guy says:

    John C Dvorak is a poopoohead! I have proof!

    Just kidding, JCD. 🙂

  5. Anonymous Commenter says:

    Uh Oh! But, I still stand by what I said.

    I don’t like what people say about me also.

    Let the mayhem begin!

  6. Nobody says:

    I don’t think this has wider implications for the internet.

    This is a newspaper letters column – there is generally a requirement for contributors to submit their name and address (not for publication).

    The judge quite reasonably decided that sending a letter to the editor via “a set of tubes” was no different than on paper.

  7. TooManyPuppies says:

    If you’re going to visit a lamestream site, “borrow” someones connection and use a proxy.

  8. The DON says:

    Here in the UK, a Judge just ruled on this same issue, but with the opposite outcome. I was mildly surprised that common sense persevered.

    Link is to the online presence of a “respectable” UK law firm. (I actually think they may be respectable, if a law firm can be such a thing)

  9. Floyd says:

    Iffy call by the judge. Though I’ve never been a “troll,” I’m glad I haven’t lived in Indiana for a very long time.

  10. Gasbag says:

    Will guest this is the end of the end of internet 😛

  11. Nobody says:

    #8 – that is a shocking level of good sense by a judge in a libel case!

    Thinking of the ruling on the guy who said Robin Hood airport should be blown up. The judge agreed that it was a silly comment to a mate, but that he was still a terrorist!

  12. God, Allah and other monikers says:

    I’m just glad I haven’t offended anyone.

  13. Cursor_ says:

    Obligatory when this stuff is posted anywhere on the net:


  14. Publius says:

    free web proxy?


    chain them?

    Why not make the government warrantless wiretappers work for a living?

  15. chris says:

    I don’t see how you can be defamed by an anonymous person. Should we send evidence teams to figure out who has been writing nasty stuff on bathroom walls as well?

    This could be easily solved by not storing the information in the future. Keeping too much user information is not smart.

  16. Improbus says:

    If trolling were my past time I would use Tor. It’s not rocket science you know. Seriously.

  17. So what says:

    Question, How many people actually give out their real identity when filling out the questions? Second question, how many are using a neighbors unprotected WAN, or a free wireless say Starbucks etc.? That’s what I thought. This will work sure it will.

  18. EnemyOfTheState says:

    So now I have to warn my neighbors not to troll while using my WiFi?

    Shit, am I protected at the library using my Zune?

    Hahahaha come and get me coppers!

  19. Buzz Mega says:

    Does the anonymous target of flames now have to reveal himself/herself/itself in order to start the ball rolling on revealing the flamer?

  20. Anne Onime says:

    Well, the judge is a lawyer of coarse. I suspect that there may be a potential conflict of interest
    involved. Lawyers seem to make quite a bit of money from civil suite for defamation, but not so much by honoring an oath to uphold the US Constitution. Is anyone wondering how the potential conflict of interest was resolved in this case?

  21. chris says:



  22. deowll says:

    Anything said by anonymous should be taken with a pound of salt.

    (While I do use a pseudonym I’ve been using it for a very long time and it could be readily traced to me. I have come to consider it to be my on line name.)

    Everything said by anyone should be confirmed from at least one or better yet two other sources.

    You have the right to say anything you want to about somebody as long as it is the truth. Truth is not subjective,at least not to me.

    Opinions should be stated as such.

    Beacon I think it was said, “Every man has the right to say what ever he likes and every other man has the right to knock him down for saying it.”

    I think it was Adams who argued that, “It isn’t slander if it’s true.” and got a court to buy the idea. That’s an original corner stone of freedom of speech in this country even if it predates the Revolution much less the Constitution.

    I’m not a supporter of the right to slander people, groups or organizations. On the other hand I’m a big fan of everybody having the right to state what they believe which I suppose can be a little contradictory at times.

    In my case it goes back to Proverbs. “Even a fool may be thought wise if they will only keep their mouths shut.” Freedom of speech allows people to more accurately judge our intelligence, wisdom and character or the lack there off.

  23. Nobody says:

    #23 – truth isn’t always a defence in libel.
    If it’s irrelevent to the point and purely meant as an attack on the person it can be judged slanderous.

    So starting each news report with “moron and mother of unwed drug addicted Fox news anchor – Sarah Palin”.
    Could be slanderous, even if those things were true. If you weren’t talking about anything where her being a moron was relavent – such as politics.

  24. Hmeyers says:

    *Snicker*. So when I use my neighbors internet or post from the library they know who I am. LOL.

  25. bobbo, not a legal expert, I just read alot says:

    Nobody–I’ve always heard that truth was a defense to libel/slander. Sure you aren’t talking about some other speech based violation of law? since you are talking about morons, maybe d0-ill could chime in with his non biased personal opinion?

    How often and on how many things can the “leadership” of the USA show itself to be malignant self promoting power grabbing a-holes and yet we maintain a good image of ourselves?

    I don’t know Manning-what his “motives” were. The action in a vacuum should be supported by FREEEEEEDOM lovers everywhere and by government statists not at all.

    Its the replay of Billy Budd once again and always the righteous man must be sacrificed for the vagaries of Empire.

    So I would arrest and prosecute Manning but I think he should be treated with civil minimums reflective of our deepest actual values.

    And maybe we are.

  26. Hmeyers says:

    Btw … I do happen to agree with #9, most of the hateful and stupid comments on the net are from cowards.

    But the reality is that many people are technically literate so I defer to myself in post #25 as the ultimate authority on this subject matter.

  27. Mr. Fusion says:

    Indiana, where the men are men and so are many of the women.

  28. Benjamin says:

    Just change your MAC address, submit your troll post at the local Starbucks, and then change your MAC back. Let the SWAT team raid the Starbucks instead of your house.

  29. Nobody says:

    #26 – truth may be an absolute defense in the land of the free / home of the double pattie. The nice thing about the internet is that the plaintiff only has to show that the site can be read in some other country with very lawyer friendly libel laws, like the UK – and have the case tried there.

  30. gmknobl says:

    Unless their is a direct threat to life, there is no justification for violating anonymity and/or freedom of speech. Even if it means letting trolls post.

    You can always moderate posts though. That takes care of that.

    Some people need a thicker skin.


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