Submitted by Colette Vogele on June 2, 2011 - 15:24
Check out Emily Bazelon's excellent article, How to Unmask the Internet’s Vilest Characters, in the New York Times Magazine, (4/22/2011). Without My Consent is noted at the end of the article:
Fighting an anonymous smear with an anonymous lawsuit is a counterintuitive idea — and a lot of judges, including the judge on Lani’s case, are reluctant to try it. But there’s some precedent in American law for suing anonymously when a case revolves around private sexual or medical facts. That’s how we got Roe v. Wade. ‘These kinds of suits don’t squelch much speech, but they still address the harm,’ points out the University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron, an expert on the topic. Indeed, if more people sued anonymously, the trolls might understand that hiding behind an online handle doesn’t mean you can’t be traced — and there might be fewer hateful posts as a result. Courts have ordered Google to turn over I.P. addresses in a few of these cases. The lawyers who represent Lani have two other clients who succeeded in suing their trolls anonymously, and who won settlements while remaining unknown to the public (though not to the defendant) throughout. The lawyers are starting a nonprofit, Without My Consent, to help bring more such cases.