Skanks in New York, the First Amendment and Anonymous Posting on the Internet
The recent “Skanks in New York” court case, which resulted in a New York state court ordering Google to provide identifying information about a blogger who posted offensive attacks on a model, has led to various privacy wonks, including our own Dan Solove, raising concerns about forcing Google to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger. It appears that some people worry that there is a First Amendment issue raised when asking Google to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger or some people worry that it is a violation of privacy for Google or internet service providers to reveal the identity of people who are anonymously blogging through there service.
This baffles me. Surely everyone who blogs using Google or who blogs through an internet service provider is or should be well aware that the provider of either the blog service or the internet service can figure out – and share – their identity. I cannot fathom the notion that anyone who anonymously blogs or uses the internet believes that their anonymity is guaranteed. Moreover, even if an anonymous poster does not realize that his/her identity is not guaranteed, how can there be a First Amendment issue or a privacy isuse if Google – a company, not a government entity, who has never promised to keep your identity a secret – reveals your identity?
If someone wants to say something with more anonymity than can be assured through the internet, write a letter and mail it in an unmarked envelope!