Are Anonymous Blog Posts Illegal?

By Robert Mark on April 23rd, 2008

Posting anonymous comments to a blog could be on its way out of the social media spectrum if some recent legal action is found to have any teeth.

Aviation International News reported last night that aircraft builder Eclipse Aviation had subpoenaed Google in an attempt to uncover contact information for a number of anonymous blog posters to the Eclipse Critic blog hosted by the the online giant.Eclipse Since its inception a few years ago, the Eclipse Critic blog has been, well … upset at what posters see as insincerity at best by Eclipse and at worst downright fabrications about the shortcomings of the company’s only product, the Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet.Eclipse

Many of the negative posts on the blog have, in the end however, turned out to be accurate.

Eclipse Aviation president Vern Raburn said his company does not wish to shut down the offending blog, but does not believe it is legal for unnamed authors to defame the company’s products while Eclipse simply stands by and watches from the sidelines. He said his company should have an opportunity to know precisely who is saying what about its products.

Google is reported to have passed the subpoena on to the Eclipse blog administrator. Making the task of locating the anonymous writers all the more difficult is that the Eclipse Critic blog administrator is an Irish citizen living in Ireland.

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4 Responses to “Are Anonymous Blog Posts Illegal?”

  1. Ken Calman Says:

    This sounds like a direct assault on the First Amendment, which gives us Freedom of Speech. Let’s hope for an early demise to this case.

  2. Robert Mark Says:

    I was just mentioning to someone else that while much of what was said at Eclipse Critic was accurate, it was often inflammatory. That’s what made their CEO mad I’m sure.

    And it’s just for that reason that we moderate comments here at Jetwhine.

    I think that people are a bit more reluctant to vent on someone if they knoe there is a chance the note will be dumped.

    In 18 months, I’ll bet I’ve only refused two posts.

    Rob

  3. Ken Calman Says:

    Why is “inflammatory” OK when it’s used by a politician and the mainstream media, but not by a blogger? An aspect of free speech it is, no? :-)

  4. Robert Mark Says:

    That’s actually a very interesting point Ken.

    My guess is that CEOs don’t take on politicians because they can easily see the mountains of bad publicity they’ll receive.

    A blogger looks like a nobody, especially when they’re saying things you don’t like.

    But this view is going to have to change. And this might just be the kind of case that does it too.

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