Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Identify yourselves

A Westchester County judge has ordered The Journal News of White Plains to turn over the identities of anonymous posters who may have slandered an ex-congressman on the newspaper's Web site.

Richard Ottinger and his wife have been involved in a legal dispute with neighbors and they claim they were falsely accused of fraud and bribery by anonymous posters. The Ottingers say they can't sue for defamation unless they know who they're suing, so The Journal News was subpoenaed to release the information.

"The anonymous blogger statements are harmful enough when viewed in isolation. Taken together, however, they create a mosaic by which the reading public will see these anonymous bloggers' statements as true facts," the Ottingers said in court papers, according to The Journal News.

The Journal News
tried to quash the subpoena, but ultimately said it would comply.

I'm sorry it came to that point for the newspaper. The Freeman also would have fought hard to protect the free speech of posters had we found ourselves in a similar plight. Except, it wouldn't have happened here because we don't allow anonymous posters to find their way on to our Web site.

You've read and heard me say this before: If you have an opinion, by all means share it. But don't hide behind the cloak of anonymity. That's the coward's way out.
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