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Freedom of speech or tortious interference for anonymous blogger?

The internet has changed the way that we communicate. For instance, social media has made it much easier to stay in contact with friends and family. The internet also offers an outlet for people to express their opinions and beliefs, whether identified or anonymous. Some argue that the anonymity of the internet leads people to behave antisocially or even post criminal comments.

A case before the Texas Supreme Court is debating what constitutes tortious interference and what is considered protected speech. The plaintiff believes that an anonymous blogger called “Trooper” who has been posting negative opinions and spiteful information about a Texas company is actually an employee of the company and should be held liable for breach of fiduciary duty and defamation of character. The plaintiff is asking the court to force Google to divulge the identity of the blogger. If it can be proven that Trooper is actually an employee, his comments would not be covered by the First Amendment. The opposing counsel argues, however, that the plaintiff has no evidence that the blogger is in fact an employee, nor can he prove that the comments have actually hurt business; the plaintiff is being accused of abusing the justice system to learn the blogger’s identity.

The outcome of this case could set a precedent for future litigation regarding the internet. If you believe that negative comments, false reviews or other information posted on the internet are hurting your business, you may want to speak with a business litigation attorney regarding your legal options.

Source: Austin Chronicle, “Are Anonymous Bloggers Protected by First Amendment?” Jordan Smith, Nov. 7, 2013.

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