The 'Chilling Effect' Effect...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The 'Chilling Effect' Effect...

...a Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court ruling could have on those making "deeply disturb­ing" remarks on a newspaper website.

In a recent decision Judge Jeffrey Lawrence ruled that an anonymous on-line commenter can be "outed" in case the aggrieved party wishes to pursue legal action.

In brief, Buffalo Grove Village Trustee Lisa Stone accused one "Hipcheck16" of making de­famatory on-line comments about her 15-year-old son, and Judge Lawrence ordered that the identity be revealed to Stone.

(The story and underlying facts.)

If Lawrence's ruling stands, imagine how this would affect some of thems what post on the increasingly popular 27East.com!

"Deeply disturbing?!?" Some of the Comments made there are downright reckless! Anonymity breeds boldness.

If anyone feared that their true identity might be revealed, the result would be like poking a bully in the nose... they'd think about it before their next onset of keyboard diarrhea.

I cannot imagine the Circuit Court's decision will withstand any sort of challenge... not that it wouldn't be appropriate for 'Net bullies to be exposed, but the underlying facts here seem flimsy for a case with such significant Internet privacy implications.

Flimsy? In the Illinois case, the "child" is the 15-year-old son of a public figure who got into an on-line dust-up about his mother's election last April.

And in truth, it appears as if the Judge may have been doing a favor for Mrs. Stone, giving "Hipcheck16" some uneasy moments, but knowing his decision would be overturned at the next level.

Judges love to rule on Constitutional issues, even those in lowly jurisdictions... ah, there Bob Kelly!... and the Fourth Amendment cer­tainly qualifies.

Comments

1. The Quiogue Kid said...

Will watch what I say from now on but the march toward making Quiogue an independant state marches on… the Quahog Republic is upon us!

2. Hampton West said...

LOL. I'll reveal myself to the world in advance -- I'm really Waldo Lydecker -- yes, the same guy from the movie "Laura."

Well, I used to be, but I'm not anymore.
Dean

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