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Author of anonymous online post must be revealed, high court rules

In a case that has drawn national attention, the Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled that Comcast must release to the plaintiff identifying information about the till-then anonymous online defendant in a defamation lawsuit.

In Hadley v. Subscriber Doe, the court considered what a plaintiff must show to compel the release of an Internet subscriber's identifying information. The court's ruling focuses on the tension between the right of an individual to speak anonymously and the "necessity" component of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224, which allows a plaintiff to conduct discovery to identify a responsible party. It ultimately held that if a defamation claim can survive a section 2-615 motion to dismiss, then a plaintiff has demonstrated necessity sufficient to trigger Rule 224. See the August Illinois Bar Journal for more on the ruling.

On August 3, On Monday, the attorney for the defendant filed a motion to stay with the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve his client's anonymity.

Posted on August 12, 2015 by Mark S. Mathewson
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Member Comments (1)

Remind me (or teach me): what's the rationale of protecting anonymous speech? Is it because people should be able to speak their minds without fear of retribution? The SCT opinion didn't say much about it. Not trying to be glib, I forgot, if I ever knew. My preference is for commentators to identify themselves. Too often people make anonymous (and cowardly) personal attacks on discussion boards.