acluI had expected the ACLU to get involved in this lawsuit long before now. Better late then ever, I suppose. It is not that I might be in agreement with the arguments that the ACLU and others have made regarding this lawsuit, that I was expecting them, it was just the knowledge that sooner or later the ACLU would come into this lawsuit somehow. 

One adage that I have used as a caution before is “be careful what you wish for.” The reasons are quite simple.

The plaintiff’s stated reason for this lawsuit is that some of the anonymous defendants made defamatory comments about him. The defendant counters that this is nothing more as a SLAPP action to prevent discussion about this rape. 

What transpires from the involvement as well as the arguments the ACLU presents will determine the future of blogs and those who comment on them.

If the defendant prevails SOLELY on the argument that she is not obligated to turn over the ip information of the anonymous posters, this does not let her or the IDENTIFIED posters off the hook.

This also would not unduly raise the plaintiff burden of proof obligation since that issue would not be addressed.

What would likely happen, though, is that there would be an INCREASE in the numbers of anonymous users and anonymous off shore blogs, forums and chats that will leave NOBODY untouched from similar “revelations” including the defendant. 

One statement that the ACLU made is noteworthy:

“If subpoenas are honored and the identities of these commenters are revealed, the First Amendment damage is done,” said Greenwood. “Even if the lawsuit is ultimately unsuccessful, the Plaintiff will have discouraged others in this small community from engaging in online conversation which they believed to be anonymous. This would have serious implications for other forms of anonymous free speech on the internet.”

The ACLU seems to take a “you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t” attitude that makes me wonder why they are involved in the first place since they seem to think that everyone will lose regardless of the outcome. 

I disagree. As I stated, if the Defendant prevails, it will ENCOURAGE rather than DISCOURAGE the participation of those who insist they are right about what they posted about Saltsman. MORE would join knowing that they have the support of the ACLU and the ACLU knows it.

What WILL, happen, however, is that defamation, stalking and harassment claims will not only be harder to prove but will also be harder to TRACE.

“Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.””

Stay tuned