Saturday, December 01, 2007

N.J. Township Subpoenas Google to Unmask Anonymous Blogger

Another blogger-anonymity challenge, in which a litigant has subpoenaed Google to acquire a blogger's name, is pending in a New Jersey court.

From Electronic Frontier Foundation, which acts for the blogger in Manalapan v. Moskovitz:

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, of this and other decisions, was Blogspot blogger "datruthsquad" (http://datruthsquad.blogspot.com). Inexplicably, attorneys for the Township issued a subpoena to Google (owner of Blogspot) 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 (now representing datruthsquad) to explain how this could be anything other than an attempt to out a vocal critic, attorneys for the Township refused to withdraw the subpoena and informed EFF that it could go to court to object to the subpoena if it so chose. On November 28, 2007, EFF filed a motion to quash the subpoena and for a protective order to prevent the Township from issuing similar subpoenas in the future. Stay tuned.

The case is reminiscent of the Orthomom case we discussed November 13.

EFF has posted a copy of its court filing, along with another article on the motion, Blogger Fights for Free Speech in New Jersey. According to its website:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been involved in the fight to protect the rights of anonymous speakers online. As one court observed, in a case handled by EFF along with the ACLU of Washington, "[T]he free exchange of ideas on the Internet is driven in large part by the ability of Internet users to communicate anonymously."

(h/t - Balloon Juice)

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

Visit our Toronto Law Firm website: www.wiselaw.net

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