By Ian B. Brooks
Illinois Establishes Standard for Identifying Anonymous Internet Commenters
Evan Brown at Internet Cases reports that the Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District has set forth a standard for identifying an anonymous internet commenter in Maxon v. Ottawa Publishing Co., No. 3-08-0805 (Ill. App. 3d June 1, 2010). A couple from Illinois, unhappy with anonymous comments on a local newspaper website, sought to identify the commenters. Illinois Rules on Civil Proceedings Rule 224 allows a petitioner to file a petition to identify a person “responsible in damages.” The trial court followed the analysis of Dendrite International. Inc. v. Doe No. 3, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) and Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005), in denying the petition. The appellate court reversed and remanded, setting forth a new standard that requires a court to “insure that the petition: (1) is verified; (2) states with particularity facts that would establish a cause of action for defamation; (3) seeks only the identity of the potential defendant and no other information necessary to establish the cause of action of defamation; and (4) is subjected to a hearing at which the court determines that the petition sufficiently states a cause of action for defamation against the unnamed potential defendant.” Maxon, slip op. at 9. As Brown notes, this standard — unlike that of past cases — does not require the petitioner to attempt to identify the commenter.
FCC Votes to Proceed with Net Neutrality Regulations
Joelle Tessler for the Associated Press reports that the Federal Communications Commission has voted to accept public comments on three proposed broadband regulations. The regulations are part of the FCC’s latest attempt to establish oversight of broadband providers. The proposal would redefine broadband access as a telecommunications service, allowing the FCC greater regulatory control. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski hopes to ensure that broadband providers treat network traffic equally, limiting their ability to selectively block traffic. JOLT Digest previously highlighted the objections of many members of Congress to the FCC’s attempts to regulate in the aftermath of Comcast Corp. v. FCC.
Napolitano Calls for Balance Between Civil Liberties and Security
Lolita C. Baldor for the Associated Press reports that in a recent speech, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano discussed the balance between fighting terrorism and maintaining civil liberties. Citing the recent homegrown, online terrorist recruitment efforts, Napolitano suggested that the law should allow the government to monitor these growing threats. Napolitano believes that by monitoring Internet communications the United States can better protect national security without necessarily “having a deleterious effect on individual rights.”