This week the Sacramento Bee reported that a California judge ruled that a litigant may learn the identity of a person who posts an anonymous comment on a blog.
In the case Calvin Chang, a police officer for the University of California in Davis filed suit against UC, claiming discrimination and breach of a settlement agreement in a prior lawsuit. David Greenwald, who operates a blog called The People's Vanguard of Davis, wrote about the suit and people commented. Chang believes that one anonymous comment was written by a 'managing agents' of the university and contained information that would violate the agreement of the prior settlement agreement.
The California judge ruled that Chang can hire a third-party to investigate whether the author of the comment was a manging agent. If it was the court would allow Chang to request that Google, the Vanguard's former host, provide him with the anonymous poster's e-mail addresses and log-in information.
The Sacramento Bee also reported that the judge ruled that the First Amendment generally protects anonymous speech, but online anonymity may be breached. "When vigorous criticism descends into defamation, constitutional protection is no longer available."
Read more about the case in the Chronicle of Higher Education, provide through the library's subscription.