Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Anonymous Commentators, Campaign Speech, and the Internet

Jasmine E. McNealy, Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communication, is publishing A Textual Analysis of the Influence of McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission in Cases Involving Anonymous Online Commenters in the First Amendment Law Review. Here is the abstract.

Internet anonymity and the boundaries of the rights of anonymous Internet speakers is a growing issue. The First Amendment also protects anonymous speech. In McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Ohio law that prohibited the distribution of anonymous campaign material. But the McIntyre decision concerned offline communications — fliers. A question remains as to whether the courts have or are willing to apply the McIntyre to anonymous Internet communications, and if so, is that application limited only to political speech. This study examines these questions in an attempt understand what impact McIntyre has had on the protection of online anonymity by presenting an textual analysis of cases in which subpoenas have been issued to identify anonymous online commenters.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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