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Judge: Media must reveal IDs of online posters

Discussion in 'The OT' started by James Long, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. Mar 6, 2011 #1 of 15
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Judge: Media must reveal IDs of online posters

    INDIANAPOLIS | A judge in a defamation case has ordered news media outlets in Indianapolis to reveal information that could help identify people who posted disparaging comments about an official on their online forums.

    An Indiana journalism shield law that protects reporters from having to reveal their sources doesn't protect web sites from being forced to disclose who made anonymous posts, Marion Superior Court Judge S.K. Reid ruled.

    Reid held that The Indianapolis Star and the Indianapolis Business Journal must provide names or other information that would help Jeffrey Miller, the former chief executive of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, identify who wrote online comments that described him as "greedy" and warranting an investigation by the state attorney general.

    Source
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    I wondered when the "comments" that it seems anyone can add to news stories on station and newspaper websites would become a problem. I generally avoid reading comments on news websites because there are too many personal attacks in them (including "Darwin" comments on stories of teenagers who died in car crashes - stuff that would never get published in a respectable "letters to the editor" column).
     
  2. Mar 6, 2011 #2 of 15
    brant

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    read this --> http://www.ajc.com/news/ga-man-awarded-404-809868.html



     
  3. Mar 6, 2011 #3 of 15
    sigma1914

    sigma1914 Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    Good! People like her belong there.
     
  4. Mar 6, 2011 #4 of 15
    phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    I never understand why people think they can remain anonymous. Even "Deep Throat" in the Watergate Washington Post story, a protected source, finally was identified 30 years later.

    I frequently comment on certain political issues mostly on two newspaper sites but pick and choose when and which articles/opinion pieces trying to avoid any exchanges with the rabid conspiracy theory crazies.

    I use a pseudonym as I do here but identify my blog which almost anyone could use to find out who I am if it really matters to them.

    The defamation lawsuit initiated by Jeffrey Miller, the chief executive of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, because he was called "'greedy' and warranting an investigation by the state attorney general" tells me that Miller shouldn't have been a public figure - he's too thin skinned.

    It's also telling that he began the lawsuit against other officials so he actually may have screwed up or worse. But regardless, he's now got his 15 minutes of national fame which I think he would have preferred to avoid. For instance, he's got me writing about him.:sure:

    It's stupid to accuse a public figure of criminal malfeasance anonymously on a news web site but it's even more foolish for a public figure to waste a lot of time and energy responding. It just keeps the press focused. It's the job of State Attorneys General, District Attorneys and Grand Juries to investigate such charges. Let them do their job. When they clear you, it will be noted in the paper on page 8 "among the truss ads."

    In terms of receiving false accusations as a public figure, been there. It's annoying and your feelings get hurt, but it comes with the territory.

    Bullying is a whole other subject.
     
  5. Mar 6, 2011 #5 of 15
    Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    The first amendment does protect free speech... but I'm not sure there is any protection for anonymity.

    Of course... in the olden days... it was beneficial if you criticized the King to be anonymous when you did so... so that you would not be executed... but a lot of people take advantage of the power of anonymity to spread unfounded rumors, insults, and attacks... then they want to be protected from being known.

    I'm all for being able to be anonymous... for various reasons... but, to me, when you make accusations, insults, and attacks... you lose the right to be anonymous at that point.

    Use your anonymity wisely.
     
  6. Mar 6, 2011 #6 of 15
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    It did help the discovery when he announced it. :D

    I thought I was pretty anonymous until a reporter called me at work about something I posted on the internet (it was years before I joined DBSTalk and I used a handle).

    The point I was raising is in relation to the "free speech" trend. Many online news sites offer the ability for people to comment on their stories. Some require registration, others require unverified email addresses or less. It all seems to be part of the trend of being "connected" and turning news pages in to social media sites. The crap people might share with a friend at a bar or around the watercooler (with the right people present) is posted for all to read - and online media dare not filter it! Personally ... I wish they would.

    A lot of it is nonsense ... some of it is racist or sexist. And most is just plain rude. Without moderation one sees all kinds of crap that if you said it to me in person I probably would not speak to you again. But the freedom of the internet and social media rules. It is time to learn that the Internet is real life ... and that people CAN be held responsible for the things we post about others.
     
  7. Mar 6, 2011 #7 of 15
    cj9788

    cj9788 Hall Of Fame

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    The first amendment only protect you from government. If you spout libelous or slanderous dribble you have no protection whatsoever from being sued.
     
  8. Mar 6, 2011 #8 of 15
    The Merg

    The Merg 1*

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    The problem is that the courts are very conservative in describing what libelous or slanderous speech is. Just look at the recent Supreme Court ruling.

    - Merg
     
  9. Mar 6, 2011 #9 of 15
    tcusta00

    tcusta00 Active Member

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    Indeed, I was gonna mention that but you saved me the post.

    So... +1 to pad. :lol:
     
  10. The Merg

    The Merg 1*

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    Whatever I can do to help your post count! :D

    - Merg
     
  11. cj9788

    cj9788 Hall Of Fame

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    Would you please post a link to the ruling you are refering too. I did a search and could not find it. I did find this which was updated this year and it states the US supreme court ruled last on slander and libel in 1964 and 1967. It also gives a (IMO) a very good definition of the topic at hand.

    IMO I find it funny how people call the courts liberal or conservitive. I have heard it called both. I guess it is the individuals perception and personal convictions about the subject the court is ruling on.
     
  12. sigma1914

    sigma1914 Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    I think he's referring to the recent rulings protecting the scum of Westboro Baptist Church.
     
  13. The Merg

    The Merg 1*

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    Snyder vs. Phelps
    http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_751

    This is the case where a "religious" group was protesting at a Marine's funeral. The family of the Marine filed suit for emotional distress and that the group slandered the name of their son.

    The Supreme Court ruled that the group has the right protest at a military funeral. While the fact that it was a free speech issue and the Court stated that in this case the speech cannot be infringed upon, it can very well be seen as a conservative decision.

    With a free speech case of this nature, the Court looked at the direct text of the 1st Amendment and is basically saying that there is nothing to interpret. That kind of view of the law is generally considered to be a conservative view. When the Court looks at the Constitution/Bill of Rights and tries to interpret what the Founders meant, it is generally considered to be a liberal viewpoint.

    Oh, and I put "religious" in quotes as it appears this group is really members of just one family.

    - Merg
     
  14. The Merg

    The Merg 1*

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    Had an interesting conversation with the wife about this topic. She was of the view that this is a very liberal decision by the Court. Her view as follows...

    While the Court has been leaning to the right, this is a huge shift for them. With any decision that unequivocally protects free speech, it is a liberal decision. Look at the flag-burning cases. In those cases, the liberals on the Court voted to protect it, while the conservatives voted to say it was not protected speech. I argued that the Court stated that flag-burning was an action and not speech. However, she also pointed out that Samuel Alito was the lone dissent in this recent case and he is one of the most conservative Justices on the bench right now.

    - Merg
     
  15. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

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    On the issues of libel and slander, I see the courts as leaning toward being reserved, or even reluctant -- nuances, I know, but I like to separate from the political.
     

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