Is anonymous speech a right?
Yes. Anonymous speech is presumptively protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Anonymous pamphleteering played an important role for the Founding Fathers, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, whose Federalist Papers were first published anonymously. And the Supreme Court has consistently backed up that tradition, ruling, for example, that an Ohio law requiring authors to put their names on campaign literature was a violation of the First Amendment. Indeed, the Supreme Court has ruled that protecting anonymous speech has the same purpose as the First Amendment itself: to “protect unpopular individuals from retaliation and their ideas from suppression.”
Was Loren violating my 1st Amendment Constitutional rights when he posted his blog entry?
The U.S. Supreme Court characterized in 1995 as “an honorable tradition of advocacy and dissent.” Accordingly, Steele wrote, a court should not order the unmasking of an anonymous Internet poster unless a plaintiff offers strong proof of defamation.
“We are concerned that setting the standard too low will chill potential posters from exercising their First Amendment right to speak anonymously,” Steele wrote. “The possibility of losing anonymity in a future lawsuit could intimidate anonymous posters into self-censoring their comments or simply not commenting at all.”
A statement is defamatory if it “tends to injure the plaintiff’s reputation and expose the plaintiff to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, or degradation.” Phipps v. Clark Oil & Ref. Corp., 408 N.W.2d 569, 573 (Minn. 1987).
First, the First Amendment protects anonymous speech. See Buckley v. Am.Constitutional Law Found., 525 U.S. 182, 200 (1999). The Supreme Court has noted that “Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.” McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Common, 514 U.S. 334, 357 (1995). Indeed, “Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent.”
Second, the protections of the First Amendment extend to the Internet. See Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 870 (1997). Courts also recognize that anonymity is a particularly important component of Internet speech.
“Internet anonymity facilitates the rich, diverse, and far ranging exchange of ideas [;] … the constitutional rights of Internet users, including the First Amendment right to speak anonymously, must be carefully safeguarded.” Doe v. 2 The Mart.com, Inc., 140 F.Supp.2d 1088, 1092, 1097 (W.D.Wash.2001).
Why is anonymous speech important?
There are a wide variety of reasons why people choose to speak anonymously. Many use anonymity to make criticisms that are difficult to state openly to their boss, for example, or the principal of their children’s school. The Internet has become a place where persons who might otherwise be stigmatized or embarrassed can gather and share information and support victims of violence, cancer patients, AIDS sufferers, child abuse and spousal abuse survivors, for example. They use newsgroups, Web sites, chat rooms, message boards, and other services to share sensitive and personal information anonymously without fear of embarassment or harm. Some police departments run phone services that allow anonymous reporting of crimes; it is only a matter of time before such services are available on the Internet. Anonymity also allows “whistleblowers” reporting on government or company abuses to bring important safety issues to light without fear of stigma or retaliation. And human rights workers and citizens of repressive regimes around the world who want to share information or just tell their stories frequently depend on staying anonymous sometimes for their very lives.
Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A much-cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads:
Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.
This lawyer, in an attempt to VERIFY my credentials, has accessed my personal information, which is none of his damn business and posted my identity on the internet, without my permission and fully knowing to incite vindictive action and personal bodily harm. Therefore I will post his to expose his unethical action, in violating my 1st Amendment Constitutional Right.
Unlike myself Loren aka LorenC posts links from his blog to his web-site and biography, therefore in no way attempting to blog anonymously or protect his or his family’s identify, based on the sensitive nature of my research and material.
I have been in contact with the local authorities, the FBI, and am in the process of filing with The Georgia Bar Association.
I have also forwarded all e-mails, blog posting that reference anything relation to the unethical action by Loren Collins. Most of the information that he has is wrong.
INTERNET LAW – Employee Blogs Pose Potential Problems for Businesses
Georgia Bar Assoc search has the following information posted on Loren Collins
Mr. Loren Christopher Collins
Law Office of W Bryant Green III PC
Atlanta, GA 30308
Here is what Loren has to state about himself;
Loren has divulged personal information without my consent or permission.
I have screenshots of his posts from other blogs that have been sent by others; wherehe boasts about ‘oust’ing’ me.
Loern Collins is a member of the Georgia Bar Association
Google has the following information on
260 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, GA 30303
In light of the current political situation, if anything happens to me or my family. I wanted some to be able to see where this Obot was involved.
I have contacted the local FBI office and local authorities am forwarding any and all threats recieved to both them and the local authorities. I have filed a complaint with the local Police Department and have contacted his employer listed and have sent three messages, to this end. I have not hear back.
I have also sent copies of his information and actions to the local news, both TV and paper.
I will be expanding this entry.
Updated; Additional information and references added. Layout changed and text revised.