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NJ Blogger Fights for Anonymous Free Speech

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the let's-out-people-in-witsec-next dept.

The Courts 406

Ponca City, We Love You writes "A New Jersey blogger is fighting for his right to blog anonymously and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked a Superior Court judge in New Jersey to preserve the blogger's free speech rights as he faces legal threats from local government officials. On June 13, 2007, the New Jersey Township of Manalapan filed a malpractice suit against its former attorney Stuart Moskovitz, alleging misconduct regarding the Township's purchase of polluted land in 2005. The decision to file suit was met by a lively debate in the regional press and among local bloggers. One blogger who was particularly critical of the Township was datruthsquad. Attorneys for the Township issued a subpoena to Google demanding that the identity of this anonymous critic be turned over, along with datruthsquad's contact information, blog drafts, e-mails, and 'any and all information related to the blog.' Despite repeated requests from EFF to explain how this could be anything other than an attempt to out a vocal critic, attorneys for the Township have refused to withdraw the subpoena and informed EFF that it can go to court to object to the subpoena. In a motion to quash the subpoena, EFF has asked the court to block the township [PDF] in its attempt to uncover the identity of 'daTruthSquad' and allow the blogger to continue to write about this or any other issue without being forced to identity him or herself."

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406 comments

You are free to say anything you want (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563729)

But if you are slanderous or libelous, you should be held accountable.

Re:You are free to say anything you want (2, Interesting)

ZWithaPGGB (608529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563795)

Public officials should not be protected in this way. They protect themselves with "Parliamentary Privilege", so they should not have protection from others.

In New Jersey, being identified as the person who outed corrupt officials could be lethal (mob).

Re:You are free to say anything you want (3, Interesting)

djasbestos (1035410) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564089)

Indeed...I don't think it should be considered a tort if Lewis Black calls George Bush an asshole.

And datruthsquad doesn't seem at all libelous or slanderous (from what I read on his blog), so it sounds like a vindictive city council. Which, needless to say, is bullshit.

END MODERATOR ABUSE (0, Offtopic)

Taco Meat (1104291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564245)

I have again been the victim of moderator abuse http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=366293&cid=21424075 [slashdot.org]. MOD me up to correct this injustice.

Too many moderators use Insightful as "I agree". Too many moderators fall for unoriginal groupthink and mod it up. People complain about trolls, but the REAL line noise on slashdot comes from the posts modded +4 or +5 that contribute NOTHING to an intelligent discussion. You can't filter that out, and even if you have your thresholds set high, you still see all the stupid stuff that you've already seen. That's why digg sucks and will never be anything but a place for 1338 high-skool haxx0rs. And it's happening here. So I used this account to call shenanigans on sucky posts. I getted modded into oblivion for pointing out truth. I guess that's how it goes. Most of you are a bunch of mindless sheeple.

One way to fix this: I think Slashdot should give IQ tests to all would-be moderators. That would ensure most of the ramshackle pseudo-intellectuals who get mod points would be replaced by people who can actually read the moderator guidelines and adhere to them.

Re:You are free to say anything you want (5, Insightful)

Beavertank (1178717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563801)

Ok, but before you get to dig through all of my personal information and destroy my anonymity you have to prove libel occurred.

Were the things I said injurious to the character and reputation of a person/organization? Were the things I said untrue?

If the answer to either of those is no you can take your accountability and go straight to hell.

Re:You are free to say anything you want (2, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564127)

If you don't turn up to court to defend your writing against libel, if wouldn't be terribly difficult for a court to find most things injurious to the character and reputation of a person/organization. The paradox is that without a defence, you're not likely to be cleared but to mount a defence you have to give up anonymity. Hence why these things can't really have initial hearings. Only chance is if a judge thinks there's no case to answer.

Re:You are free to say anything you want (3, Insightful)

module0000 (882745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564205)

IANAL.
Do you have to be present in the courtroom yourself, or can your attorney represent you without your actual presence being required in this type of suit?
Would a judge not see through their attempt to forcibly his/her anonymity by getting him to show up in court?

Re:You are free to say anything you want (2, Interesting)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564257)

destroy my anonymity you have to prove libel occurred.

IANAL

You have to prove more than just libel...
you have to prove that there was no malice in the intention, that you were not presenting an opinion (that you were presenting your statements as pure facts), and that the statements were false.
IANAL

Re:You are free to say anything you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563909)

Marked as troll. Hilarious. "Don't you tell the truth, now!"

Prior restraint and pamphleteering (4, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564101)

But if you are slanderous or libelous, you should be held accountable.
I agree.
The closest analog here I think is the issue of anonymous Pamphleteering. As I recall the common law is that you can do so anonymously. But there's also no right to that anonymity. That is, the Government or whom ever is not prevented from piercing your anonymity if they can.

Additionally there's the common law of prior restraint. With few exceptions, the government cannot act to prevent you from saying something that would be illegal or uncivil for you to say.

Thus the desire to prevent you from speaking something can't be ground for the government to require non-anonymous speech.

On the other hand the soapboxes we use to connect to the web are all owned by entitites. Those entitities can set up their own rules and policies. And one of those could be non anaoymous free speech.

I suppose other countries--not the USA-- may have different rules. Things may be different in china and stockholm.

Re:Prior restraint and pamphleteering (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564289)

that is a very good way to look at it.

somethign that has always bothered me about blogs and people not liking what is said on them and the blogers calling it free speach is this..

if i use my right to free speach - then i am talking.. i am standing next to you and talking.. you can choose not to listen to me but you will still hear it because i spoke it.

but if i write something and you read it.. that is diffrent.. the blog is out there for everyone to read.. it is like leaving a book on a park bench.. you chose to read it. there is some personal accountability taken apon the reader.

i have always had issue with anonymous web content being considered "free speach" - personaly i feel everyone should be accountable for what they say. but i think "Pamphleteering" is the best way i have have heard it clasiffied..

a very good way of looking at it, thank you

Re:Prior restraint and pamphleteering (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564341)

And even if you hear me, you can ignore it. The only time free speech is a problem is if it interferes with someone else's right to free speech. You don't have a right to not be offended or not hear things you don't like. You have a right to make your viewpoint known, and that's it.

Re:You are free to say anything you want (2, Funny)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564181)

But if you are slanderous or libelous, you should be held accountable.

Thank you for accountable informative comment, dear Anonymous Coward!

Re:You are free to say anything you want (1)

o0OSABO0o (937312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564251)

They do not appear to be alleging any kind of misconduct in the complaint just that the blogger is being anonymous -- and THAT is what they don't like.

Can you feel it? (4, Interesting)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563781)

First they can bully their way through to getting a critics name. Next they won't have to bully because it'll become common practice. Its sad... can anyone else feel it? One by one our freedoms are being taken away, and the majority of the American populace is too busy watching who is going to be the next American Idol or seeing who is Dancing with the Stars to give two shits. Its pathetic. This apathy and ignorance is probobly the biggest slap to the face to the founders of this country, even moreso than the current administrations' abuses of the constitution. If there are any fine, foxy Canadian ladies out there interested in adopting a cynical geek from the states, send me a PM, I can't stand living here anymore.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563819)

Cake and circuses. That's what keeps the masses distracted. Meanwhile the powers that be scheme on how to build checkpoints in our neighborhoods in order to verify that we are carrying the proper papers. The ones we assign authority too will do this as soon as possible. Sure I may look like I need a tinfoil hat right now, but wait and see.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563941)

Look at Roman history - the most corrupt years of their government came during the Roman obsession with the games.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563833)

I can't stand living here anymore.

Then get the fuck out. Renounce your citizenship. Do it, or shut the fuck up about leaving the country. It's a tired, never fulfilled whine.

Re:Can you feel it? (3, Informative)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563863)

Hmm, an uneducated answer. See, its hard to get citizenship elsewhere when you're massively in debt. However, there are very few uneducated jobs available in the US thanks to Clinton's push to have them eliminated. This leaves people no choice but to go to college, which for most people means tens of thousands of dollars in debt. This is my situation. So, as much as I would like to just renounce it, it isn't that easy (unless of course you're a troll who has nothing to really add to a conversation).

Re:Can you feel it? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563991)

There's always the "kill yourself" option. Just a thought.

Re:Can you feel it? (2, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564083)

Hmm, an uneducated answer. See, its hard to get citizenship elsewhere when you're massively in debt.
Or when you have utterly no marketable skills and would be a drain on the economy of any country you moved to.

However, there are very few uneducated jobs available in the US thanks to Clinton's push to have them eliminated.
There are plenty of uneducated jobs available, at low salaries of course unless you have connections. Oh wait do you mean well paying, non-physical, safe and comfortable uneducated jobs? Yeah, blame Clinton not your own laziness or anything like that.

This leaves people no choice but to go to college, which for most people means tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
A trivial amount, if you're capable of working hard and living well within your means you can easily pay it back within a year or two of graduation.

Re:Can you feel it? (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564345)

A trivial amount, if you're capable of working hard and living well within your means you can easily pay it back within a year or two of graduation.
1) Did you go to college in the U.S.? and 2) Did you pay for your college education out of your own pocket?

If the answer to either is "no," then I'd say you probably don't really know what you're saying. $30-50K is about average for a college education from a 4-year accredited private institution these days. A bit less if you go to a public school Unless you're willing/able to live with mom and dad for the first few years following your graduation, paying back that loan is a real bitch, especially when the economy ends up in the crapper following 9/11 and there are no jobs available with sufficient pay to both live on and pay back your loan. Then, when you end up not paying, the loan goes into to default, and you can forget about getting a mortgage on a house, getting a car loan, or anything else that 'normal' people do to make themselves financially stable that involves having good credit. Finally, the collection agencies catch up with you and make all kinds of nasty threats and try to force you into repayment programs you can't afford, so you have a nervous breakdown from all the stress.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Re:Can you feel it? (4, Insightful)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563851)

You are being just as bad as the apathetic by taking on a cut and run mentality. I'm sure the founders of this country would hate you even more for being aware of the problems and not trying to get them solved. It's one thing to be ignorant of issues and quite another to know the issues and turn away.

Re:Can you feel it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564103)

Well, to take the George Constansa method, if he computes his odds of ever getting a "fine, foxy Canadian lad[y]" he might just have to take it ...

Ah the cute Canadian girls of my dreams, eh?

Re:Can you feel it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564317)

Everyone say hello to Judge Judy!!!

Re:Can you feel it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564323)

You're correct that those who love a country should fight to keep it sane and free. However, there is a point at which it is better, for yourself and for the greater morality, to "cut and run." For the same reason that one should avoid shopping at businesses that have unethical practices, one should avoid living in unethical countries. To continue to live in an increasingly unfree regime is an indirect support of that regime (actually your tax dollars are a rather direct support of the regime).

As a Canadian living in the U.S. I of course have a different perspective. Although the U.S. is a great place, I cannot stand U.S. politics, and thus would like to find a job back in Canada soon. Simply put, I do not want to become a U.S. voter; I do not want to support a government like this. Yes, Canada has its own share of problems (including some corruption in government), but on the balance it is "more sane" and I would rather live there.

Generalizing from my anecdote, I will note that the U.S. does a disservice to its future growth (especially in terms of knowledge, technology, etc.) by creating an environment that is so unappealing (some might say "hostile") to foreigners. I fear that the U.S. is ruining itself by betraying its visionary roots.

If the U.S. can fix the broken political process, and reinstitute the freedom and respect for citizenry that made it so famous, then it can again become the progressive envy of the world. As is, I don't think moving elsewhere is unethical: the current regime needs to sent a message.

Re:Can you feel it? (0, Flamebait)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563859)

One by one our freedoms are being taken away...

What freedoms are lost? I've scoured the Constitution and Right to Anonymity is not listed there.

Get back to me when they imprison this guy speaking out.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563891)

What freedoms are lost? I've scoured the Constitution and Right to Anonymity is not listed there.

Read the Constitution and Bill of rights again. Fourth Amendment - the right to be SECURE in *PERSON*, PROPERTY, and PAPERS.

Re:Can you feel it? (0)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564077)

Read the Constitution and Bill of rights again. Fourth Amendment - the right to be SECURE in *PERSON*, PROPERTY, and PAPERS.

And how does knowing who he is NOT make him secure. There is nothing about anonymity. If he wanted to make these post on his personal, LAN only BBS, then great! No one should have access to it without a warrant. But when he makes a public post, he is doing so PUBLICLY.

Re:Can you feel it? (3, Insightful)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563907)

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


maybe nothing against anonymity, but it could be closely related to search and seizure of "digital papers"

Re:Can you feel it? (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563943)

maybe nothing against anonymity, but it could be closely related to search and seizure of "digital papers"

You read the B of R the wrong way. The government can't go after you because the Constitution doesn't give it the power to search digital works. The BoR only is examples of your rights, not a sole enumeration of them.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564217)

maybe nothing against anonymity, but it could be closely related to search and seizure of "digital papers"

What's to search and seize? They were posted on a public forum. If this were an email or other "private" communication, the 4'th Amendment would apply, but he/she made this post with the knowledge and intent that it would posted for all the public to see.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

Thanatos69 (993924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563935)

Because I'm sure they are going through so much trouble of finding him so they can give him a pat on the back...

The Constitution describes GOVERNMENT's power. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563947)

What freedoms are lost? I've scoured the Constitution and Right to Anonymity is not listed there.

Here's a free clue.

The Constitution is not about listing the "Freedoms" a citizen has.

The People have ALL the Freedoms. Inherently.

The Constitution defines under what conditions the government can infringe upon those Freedoms.

You have it 180 degrees BACKWARDS.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563951)

Get back to me when they imprison this guy speaking out.

And then what will you do?

Re:Can you feel it? (2, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563969)

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Re:Can you feel it? (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564069)

Hey. Fuck you. You're the prime example of the idiotic reasoning that causes this problem in the first place!

Here's a newsflash: the Constitution does not enumerate all freedoms. It merely reiterates a select few of them!

Noticing that something isn't specifically prohibited by the Constitution doesn't mean the Federal government can do it; it just means it's not one of the particular examples Jefferson et. al. chose to give. On the contrary, the Federal government can do only those things which it is specifically allowed to do, because everything else -- everything else -- was reserved to the States or to the People!

Re:Can you feel it? (0, Troll)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564291)

Noticing that something isn't specifically prohibited by the Constitution doesn't mean the Federal government can do it; it just means it's not one of the particular examples Jefferson et. al. chose to give. On the contrary, the Federal government can do only those things which it is specifically allowed to do, because everything else -- everything else -- was reserved to the States or to the People!

Then why do we even have the Bill of Rights? The Bill of Rights is full of "Congress shall make no law...", why bother? Why not a "Bill of Government Rights" full of "Congress shall..." and "Congress may..."

Also, it is a local government seeking this guy's ID, not the Feds. So, I think this would fall under reserved to the States . Your words, not mine.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564165)

Funny, I do recall one that says the Bill of Rights isn't an enumerated list too. So I guess the next step is to read our Founders' philosophy.

Re:Can you feel it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563899)

Next they won't have to bully because it'll become common practice.

Which makes me wonder... if this was a federal case, involving officials sufficiently high up in the government, would they already have this information?

Re:Can you feel it? (1, Redundant)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563905)

the American populace is too busy watching who is going to be the next American Idol or seeing who is Dancing with the Stars to give two shits. Its pathetic.

I agree with your sentiment wholeheartedly. However, the problem isn't that people are obsessed with bad TV shows. The problem is that people don't know what to do about it. I am one of those people. If I wanted to do something about decreases in freedom of speech, I wouldn't even know where to start.

Re:Can you feel it? (1, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563973)

You could start blogging about it and pretending it'll make one damn bit of difference.

Sure, it won't REALLY accomplish anything, but maybe you and a couple hundred other like-minded bloggers can all get online and whine about it and convince yourselves it matters.

Re:Can you feel it? (4, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564003)

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is gravely important that you do it." - Ghandi

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564193)

Wow. I had not read that one before.

That one's going up on a plaque in my office.

Although, I'm not sure what side Gandhi would be on re: this article, to whit:

I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.
--Gandhi

A modern Gandhi might say he believes in equality for everyone, except reporters, photographers, and bloggers.

Re:Can you feel it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563987)

You can make a start by supporting the EFF [eff.org].

Re:Can you feel it? (2, Interesting)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564001)

Pick up your rifle. Band together with others of like minds. March on your government.

Once there are enough of us, we open fire.


Figuratively speaking of course. Violence has never been the way to secure your freedom from a corrupt government.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564159)

"Figuratively speaking of course. Violence has never been the way to secure your freedom from a corrupt government."

Tell that to the people of the Boston Tea Party, or Lexington, or Bunker Hill, or any other famous battle of the Revolutionary War.

Of course it could be said that we simply secured our freedom from one corrupt government by installing another. But that's a whole other argument.

Re:Can you feel it? (2, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564037)

If I wanted to do something about decreases in freedom of speech, I wouldn't even know where to start.
Start by sending a letter to your local congresscritters. If they don't care about your privacy, then vote someone in who does. If there is no one to vote in that cares about your privacy, then get involved in politics. It's not as hard as it sounds. Unless you are in a really large city, there are probably empty board seats on the city council in which you could probably run unopposed.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563965)

As much as I can feel our freedom slipping away a can also feel the pull in the other direction. People are getting pissed. One by one people are realizing that stupid laws like this are getting passed. Soon people will realize that they can do something about it. As it is the current administration got a good slap on the wrist with the last election for congress. More needs to happen but it's start. My hope is that with the internet it will soon be the norm that all the governments doings will be posted on line so that it will be nearly imposable for an elected official to so much as take a crap with out the people who elected him being able to know about it. At the very least I hope independent news web sites take over and kick out the lazy and stupid news outlets like CNN and Fox. I can't help but remember when Jon Stewart was on a panel of some CNN show and he just started yelling at the CNN journalists for not asking elected officials any real questions.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564075)

Man I hope you're right, but I think it's going to take a lot longer and a whole lot more lost. I've had, in the last month, several people tell me they'll gladly give up their rights to "catch the bad guys". When I query who decides who the bad guys are they have no answer. That scares the hell out of me.

Re:Can you feel it? (3, Interesting)

Torodung (31985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564055)

This apathy and ignorance is probably the biggest slap to the face to the founders of this country, even moreso than the current administrations' abuses of the constitution.
Yup. And any time we "refuse to discuss politics because it's stupid or biased or subjective," or claim that "all politicians are crooks," "nothing is done right in Washington" we add to that apathy, and turn more fully towards a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Everyone telling you that any whole party in Washington is a cadre of crooks is, in fact, a crook trying to get you to surrender your political power. There are a few crooks, quite a few, but on the whole, many more of them do just as we ask them to, and their best despite that. We have the government that meets our superficial apathetic attitudes towards all things political.

(*gets on soapbox*)

My fellow Americans, do what you do best. Follow the money. There's several trillion dollars per annum tied up in politics, and all that money equals vast power. If we want our country back, we need to put politics back on the table, and drop this 1960's attitude that politics are for weenies and crooks. Politics are important and it is our civic duty to discuss the "State of the Union." All the corporations with lobbyists at Washington know this. We don't bother, because discussions about politics are "unsavory" and politicians are "worthless."

The hippies were wrong. All the governments they formed have faded, or been incorporated. This huge government is still getting larger, and it is critical that its people demand its service.

Sure, we might get into fist fights over it at a party, but everyone needs to put politics back on the table. Now. Fist fights be damned.

--
Toro

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564153)

Interestingly, right here on /. I have been modded troll for being a bit paranoid about the government's progressive march through our constitutionally guaranteed rights. Odd how one day paranoia is good, on another day it is not. Perhaps it's just the way it sounds coming out from under the tin foil hat? I think that now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant against any intrusion on our rights, any at all, no matter how small. All such forays into authoritarianism or fascism should be pushed back against as though it were the worst possible of all insults against the populace. While that seems rather paranoid and reactionary, I think that it is the only way to ensure that the constitution of the US remains in tact and functionally purposeful to the American public. Of course, that is just my opinion. I only hope I am not alone in thinking that way.

Re:Can you feel it? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564157)

The grass is always greener on the other side, eh?

It has always been like this and likely used to be much much worse (after all it used to be that no one knew of such things), except that you are likely a young twit who has never looked at history in his life. Hell do you not know of the red scare or even the the war on drugs that burned justice on a stake?

Welcome to reality, enjoy your stay and pleas learn some perspective.

Post Anonymously (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563787)

I submit that we should all Post Anonymously to this thread in support.

Re:Post Anonymously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563815)

A worthy plan. I second it.

Re:Post Anonymously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563879)

Third!

Re:Post Anonymously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563867)

That's not entirely necessary; there's nothing aside from a throwaway email address to associate you to the account.
The blogger had a username, so his level of anonymity was about the same as on /..
Posting anon for hypocrisy.

Re:Post Anonymously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563931)

Although even if you post anonymously I think you're being extremely naive if you don't think your user_id is being stored in Slashdot's db anyway..

Re:Post Anonymously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564155)

But only after placing all our email, drafts, documents, and blogs on the slashdot server. What could possibly go wrong?

This one matters... (5, Insightful)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563797)

To the extent that "all government is local", this is a very important case, because while Uncle Sam may be great big and far away, if you are in a small city or town and are critical and can be outed via a simple subpoena, then what's to stop the local city or town government from instructing the local chief of police to make sure you get more than your fair share of traffic tickets, building inspectors from condemning your home, power co. operators from playing with the juice, in short any or all other governmental or quasi-governmental person who stands to benefit from a critic being silenced from engaging in a pattern of harassment, deception, etc.?


That said, with both the EFF and Google being against the subpoena, I don't really think that this stands a snowflake's chance in hell of surviving the legal challenges. And if the Superior Court judge gets it wrong, I would still see this going all the way to SCOTUS for resolution before the blogger would be outed.

Re:This one matters... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563983)

That said, with both the EFF and Google being against the subpoena, I don't really think that this stands a snowflake's chance in hell of surviving the legal challenges.

The scary part about this is that two NGOs are the advocates for privacy and citizen rights in this case. It's very, very sad when we trust a private corporation more than we trust our local goverment.

Neuromancer, we'll see you soon.

Whistleblower laws? (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563827)

Does NJ have whistle blower laws? And if so, do bloggers count or would one have to go to a "reputable" news place to have a legal shield? I'm not even sure if it would apply though; you have to be somehow involved in the thing you are critiquing to be considered a whistle blower.

That was dumb... (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563829)

While agree with the EFF's premise (in that someone shouldn't be forced into identifying him/herself just because they've been vocal about a public issue), I have to wonder... WTF would the township do with the info?

Sure, if the blogger turns out to be a public employee of said township, he/she would prolly be fired. Then again, the nanosecond after they did such a thing, esp. after outing him/her in such a public manner, would likely put themselves at substantial legal risk.

But the main point for the township being stupid by doing it is this: what was once a thing that could be scoffed at as 'some guy on the Internet who knows nothing about this'... now has credence, credibility, and a firm aura of truth; all of which has now been granted to him/her/it by the township's idiot legal team.

Personally, if Congress wants to do something useful (well...), they could work on something legislative-like that would prevent government-as-plaintiff in a civil suit from ever being allowed to out any anonymous posting, publication, or what-have-you.

Man - some people just can't grok the concept of not using every tool they have for a difficult problem, simply because they're all there and sitting in the toolbox.

/P

Re:That was dumb... (3, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563855)

You are probably breaking three or four laws right now and you do not even know it.

The township can make the guy's life hell-- can make his friend's lives hell so he loses his friends (assuming it is a guy).

Ben Franklin would have been outed very early in his career under this standard.

Re:That was dumb... (2, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563911)

Then again, the nanosecond after they did such a thing, esp. after outing him/her in such a public manner, would likely put themselves at substantial legal risk.

But with lawyers involved, thats not how it works. They would ignore him for awhile, giving the coworkers better performance reviews (not bad for the employee, but better for the others) ensuring the others get promotions. They would slowly change the scope of work of the employee, to set them up to fail. They would also start doing LOTS of random audits of his department, writing him up for making a personal call, hitting their banks website, etc. So that they will have a paper trail in the employee's file showing they were bad. Other co-workers would file complaints about little things, which would get added to the pile, etc. Basically, they will drive the employee so low that they will hate it, and quit.

Re:That was dumb... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564325)

you miss the point. that is happening is that the councilors he is attacking online want to sue him personally for lible. it's not the council itself, as government departments aren't able to bring civil suits. hell if someone was attacking me very publicly online i'd probably sue them as well if it wasn't true.

example. what if someone on a local forum accused you of being a pedo and it got picked up in the local news? it could ruin your life, and the internet is NOT a platform to get up and ruin other peoples lives.

The township is NOT trying to silence a critic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563839)

They are just trying to get the name and address so they can deliver a Satriale's gift basket.

Who do they think they are? (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563849)

They should realize they are some small city government in New Jersey. They seem to think they are China. Only to China, Google and Yahoo will dutifully genuflect and bend over. Not to New Jersey.

Re:Who do they think they are? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564065)

I've been to both China and New Jersey.

You are more likely to have a positive experience with law enforcement from the fucking Chicoms than you are in New Jersey.

Out the blogger! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563853)

Did anyone actually click the link to the blog in question? I say that they should let the blogger be outed just so he can be flogged as punishment for his writing "style". His blog made my brain hurt. English, learn it!

Simpsons reference (1)

d0hboy (679122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563869)

The article summary made me think of a related Simpsons [wikipedia.org] episode in which Homer hid behind a "Mister X" moniker and dug up dirt on everybody through a website.

invasive and non-invasive postings (4, Interesting)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563895)

Blogging, and writing web pages are non-invasive: I am not going to receive the material unless I search for it and select it. Non-invasive postings are like a newspaper in that respect. If I don't like your newspaper I don't subscribe and after that if you continue to drop it off on me that is littering. anonymous non-invasive postings are fine eMails, phone calls, FAXs, and executable codes are INVASIVE. If you bust through my door without identifying yourself and stating your business I like to put a boot in the seat of your pants. we have already won on FAXs and on Caller-ID. Next will be eMails and executable codes. NO SIGNATURE? NO EXECUTE.

Par for the course (3, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563915)

Welcome to the Garden State. Never let it be said local officials were ever too happy about having their judgment questioned. When it comes to mayors, school boards, and township committees, N.J. is a hotbed for corruption, and whenever someone calls someone else out, there's always some under-handed move by local government to quash the opposition. The sad part is, despite his campaign promises, out illustrious governor hasn't done a damned thing about political corruption on any level in New Jersey.

I frankly don't think this subpoena has a chance in hell of surviving, but I do feel it's going to have to go pretty far up the chain before it gets choked off. NJ just has the kind of effect.

Freedom of Spee... ah Responsibility (1, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563923)

"Freedom of Speech" has never meant "Freedom for Responsibility." The right to speak your mind does not mean that you cannot be held accountable for your statements.

It is important that anyone speaking out, or even breaking the law, understand that there are possible consequences, and assess whether on the balance they still wish to move ahead. Obviously datruthsquad has a rather sketchy understanding of the law, and is now being threatened for his actions.

Rather than trying to find some cloak of invisibility he should be preparing his defence with his lawyer.

Assuming that he can actually defend his statements.

Re:Freedom of Spee... ah Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564169)

has a rather sketchy understanding of the law, and is now being threatened for his actions.
What are your legal credentials? Are you a lawyer, or are you doling out uninformed legal advice?

Re:Freedom of Spee... ah Responsibility (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564361)

Since when does "responsibility" equate to retaliation by some petty bureaucrat as in the case here?

It seems to me the responsible citizen doesn't let their government officers get away with strong-arm tactics, thievery and all out corruption. That's where responsibility comes in. Not with "leave an easy trail for someone to key your car".

What "da" fudge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563939)

I think I'm going to have to write a filter to convert all of the da's to the's before I can read this blogger's page... it wasn't clever in the title and it certainly isn't clever to substitute it in every possible instance.

Does Anonymity create more or less truth? (3, Interesting)

olddotter (638430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564081)

Ok maybe this is an tangential question to the subject. But I'm wondering does the ability to post anonymously create more truthful revelation because people are not afraid of retribution? Or does it create more bogus BS because people know they can't be held accountable?

Bearing on the case? (3, Informative)

Xchagger (655731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564087)

According to the article, they are attempting to discover the bloggers identity not to call them out or persecute them, but to make sure it isn't the defendant in the case.

The township subpoenaed Google for "daTruthSquad's" identity -- as well as for any emails, blog drafts, and other information Google has about the blogger -- claiming that the defendant in the case is actually writing the posts. The defendant, however, has already sworn under penalty of perjury that he is not "daTruthSquad."
Why this was left out of the article summary, I am not sure. While I don't personally think that giving away the person's identity is right, I do think the prosecutors have the right to know whether or not the defendant is posting these blogs to cause a big ruckos and to support their cause. Especially since the defendant has already testified it is not them. If they lied, they are guilty of purjury. If google could just verify that the blogger is not infact the defendant, I think that would be fair enough.

Re:Bearing on the case? (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564189)

None of what you say should matter in the slightest bit. He was asked this question and had to answer truthfully under oath. By your argument, all you have to do is ask the question and they lose their right to be anonymous, which is unconstitutional.

Re:Bearing on the case? (2, Interesting)

Xchagger (655731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564385)

If you are involved in the case, yes, you should have to divulge your identity. If the blogger is not involved in the case, their anonymity should be safe. Hence why I said, at best, Google should have to divulge whether or not it is the defendant. If it is, they are guilty of perjury, if not, then the person remains anonymous. I'm sure legally it can't work that way. The law system has a tendancy to be all or nothing. Just saying that I believe the prosecuters have a right to know whether or not it is the defendant making the blogs. He said no under oath, that doesn't mean he wasn't lying. I believe they have a right to verify the truth when the information is available. I do not believe they should be privy to any information other than whether or not he was lying. If the law states they need all the information, not just the pertinent information, then no, they shouldn't have it. I do not know the law though.

Re:Bearing on the case? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564319)

I do think the prosecutors have the right to know whether or not the defendant is posting these blogs to cause a big ruckos and to support their cause.

Google can answer that with a simple "yes" or "no".

Not sure how to tie this into Facebook's (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564093)

founder, but:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/03/zuckerberg_files/ [theregister.co.uk]

From the URL:

"Facebook founder loses court battle to keep personal data offline
Poked by his own petard... bitch"

and:

"Mark Zuckerberg has been given a taste of his own medicine: his personal information is being plastered all over the web forever.

The Facebook boss has failed in a court bid to gag a magazine that published data including drunken extracts from his college diary and his social security number.

Federal judge Douglas Woodlock told the 23-year-old's lawyers on Friday that the independent Harvard alumni magazine 02138 had the right to release the documents, which were part of another court case.

02138's investigation centred on the dispute between Zuckerberg and the operators of ConnectU, another Harvard-founded social network. It's alleged that in the early days of Facebook, "the new Bill Gates" nicked ideas and source code from brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who had asked him to work on their project."

I wonder what kind of slander and libel and smearing might come about if this other case turns out to have basis in fact, and what this might do to msoft's investment in Facebook. I bet Google is GLAD it did not get to be attached, now...

"particularly critical " (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564105)

How critical is the key fact that is missing. If he is saying the Township is not doing a good job and is criticising their actions in relation to this case then he is fine. If he is libelling individual, identifiable, people and/or breaking accepted laws in any other way then he should be held accountable.

If it is the former then his comments are no different to thousands of letters published in local newspapers all over the world every week criticising decisions and governance - a process that is well accepted to be *part* of the democratic system, and indeed a vital one. If it is the latter then the blogger has fallen into the now very well defined trap of thinking you are unidentifiable online, and thus can say or do whatever you like.

Elsewhere in New Jersey, It's Not Much Better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564111)

I'm from New Jersey, though a bit further south than where this incident is happening.

Our local newspaper's editor was confronted by some area politicians demanding that the paper's online forum not allow anonymous postings. Apparently, many government employees and other insiders were exposing some of the local politicos' more unsavory practices and business dealings through anonymous postings in the newspaper's forums. Being unable to confront (threaten with termination, bodily harm, etc) the anonymous posters truly frustrated the men in charge. From what I hear, they made things very uncomfortable for the paper's editor unless he complied with their wishes.

Upon further consideration, the editor stuck by his opinion that the online forums should remain anonymous, to the chagrin of the local politicians.

We're all waiting for the other shoe to drop and see what sort of retaliation the offended parties contrive.

It's THE damnit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564113)

I completely lost interest when I viewed his blog only to find that EVERY occurrence of the word "the", except for those that are part of quoted text, has been replaced with "da". I would understand if he was from "da hood", but to write in perfect English while only replacing "the" with "da" is extremely annoying. Seriously anonymous guy, you've already cashed in on "da" with just the title of your blog. You've gone completely overboard with the rest.

DON'T GET HYSTERICAL : Other Side of the Story (5, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564143)

EFF Twists Truth? [nj.com]

David Weeks, an attorney representing Manalapan, says the foundation is twisting a routine legal request in a local lawsuit into a First Amendment case.
"We're not asking to interfere with anyone's right to speak," Weeks said.
Instead, Manalapan's attorneys are simply asking Google to establish whether Moskovitz was telling the truth when he denied he was the blogger in court papers related to the land deal lawsuit.
"I don't know one way or the other if it's him," Weeks said. "It could be him."


So, some facts:

a) The guy getting sued is being sued because he didn't file EPA paperwork on a land deal. In NJ, that's pretty dumb, so he could be guilty of malpractice.
b) The guy getting sued is actually the former mayor of the same county that is suing him.
c) Yes, NJ is crooked.

However, with that said, if DaTruthSquad is the former mayor, and he is posting on about stuff, he could be violating various other things, compromising a sealed case, who knows, and therefor, the government -does- have an interest in knowing if it is him.

Note that the point is, Google isn't getting sued to see -who- DaTruthSquad is. Google is getting sued to reveal if the guy is the former mayor. Not to say that everyone is angelic, but, in all probability, DaTruthSquad is probably a crook himself.

As Bob Dylan wrote: "In Jersey everything's legal, as long as you don't get caught."

Re:DON'T GET HYSTERICAL : Other Side of the Story (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564349)

Note that the point is, Google isn't getting sued to see -who- DaTruthSquad is. Google is getting sued to reveal if the guy is the former mayor. Not to say that everyone is angelic, but, in all probability, DaTruthSquad is probably a crook himself.

In other words, they're asking for a single bit of information: true/false, not a string. If true, it certainly dampens the spin put on this story.

Dylan's on to something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564371)

"In Jersey everything's legal, as long as you don't get caught."

In California, everything's legal, as long as you're not a high profile target for Santa Clara County's DA.

The more things change.... (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564173)

From da blog: Please follow closely how YOUR tax dollars are being spent by da comments made by Manalapan's hand-picked legal experts

Izn't dat da truth!

I don't know who's dumberer, da blogger or da people sooing him!

They gave this guy all of this attention. As someone trying to get a site up and running, getting folks to view your site is the hardest thing next to getting content.

Kuddos to this guy for getting the free publicity and I'm beginning to question the EFF's strategies here and their choices of battles.

Should've used masked.name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21564175)

masked.name uses Tor .onion for allowing true anonymous publishing to the world wide web. If he had used a masked blog it'd be impossible to give up his IP since no one would have it. Besides that, there is also anonymous email and other goodies.

free speech doesn't not mean anonymous (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564211)

The problem the blogging community fails to understand, is that you are perfectly free to say what you want, but you NOT free to do it without accountability. If you jump on a website and say things that aren't true and could ruin a person's career then you can damn well can't hide behind the banner of anonymous free speech.

I'm all for anonymity but what if... (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564331)

But what if the blogger is in fact the guy being sued for malpractice or someone directly involved in the case? Should that still be protected? Should someone be allowed to create 'sock puppet sympathizers' to defend them? To editorialize on their behalf? To criticize their opponents with impunity?

Something seems wrong with that. When speaking anonymously its easy to say things because you have no personal accountability for what's said. That can be used for good and for evil. I'm not sure it should be automatically protected.

After all, we'd be outraged if Walmart managers started series of grassroots anti-union blogs in a number of places... "I'm just an anonymous low level walmart employee like you whose against the unionization because... reason reason reason reason... and I'm posting anonymously because I fear retaliation from the union rabble rousers who just want to consolidate power for themselves. I we unionize they'll win, and we'll all lose. And then over the following weeks posted all kinds of stuff criticising the union organizers in every way imaginable."

Each blog would repeat the others and manufacture 'truth by repetition'.

There'd be no way to prove it was management, because of course:

We must protect anonoymous online journalists!!111!

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