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Civil Subpoenas and User Anonymity Matt Zimmerman Senior Staff Attorney EFF Bootcamp May 11, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Civil Subpoenas and User Anonymity Matt Zimmerman Senior Staff Attorney EFF Bootcamp May 11, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Civil Subpoenas and User Anonymity Matt Zimmerman Senior Staff Attorney EFF Bootcamp May 11, 2009

2 Congratulations: You’re Now a Subpoena Magnet!

3 Overview: Navigating Legal Process oLaw enforcement inquiries oDMCA notices oCivil Subpoenas oOther

4 Potentially Anonymity-Piercing Info In Your Possession oRegistration info (e.g. name) o address oIP logs oCommunication content

5 Why Protect Anonymity?

6 A Few Good Reasons McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n 514 U.S. 334 (1995) “Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority... [that] exemplifies the purpose [of the First Amendment] to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation … at the hand of an intolerant society.”

7 A Few Good Reasons McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334 (1995) “[A]n author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.”

8 A Few Good Reasons Gibson v. Fla. Legislative Investigative Comm’n, 372 U.S. 539 (1963) “[I]t is... clear that [free speech guarantees]... encompass[] protection of privacy association …”

9 A Few Good Reasons Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960) Finding a municipal ordinance requiring identification on hand-bills unconstitutional, and noting that “[a]nonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind.”

10 A Few Good Reasons Doe v. 2theMart.com, 140 F. Supp. 2d 1088 (W.D. Wash. 2001) “The right to speak anonymously extends to speech via the Internet. Internet anonymity facilitates the rich, diverse, and far ranging exchange of ideas.”

11 First Amendment Limitations on Civil Subpoenas Seeking Identity Information

12 Party Subpoenas: The Dendrite Standard Dendrite Int'l v. Doe No. 3, 342 N.J.Super. 134 (App. Div. 2001)

13 1.Notify the user; 2.Quote verbatim the allegedly actionable content; 3.Allege all elements of the cause of action; 4.Present evidence supporting the claim of violation; and, 5.“Balance the defendant’s First Amendment right of anonymous free speech against the strength of the prima facie case presented and the necessity for the disclosure of the anonymous defendant’s identity to allow the plaintiff to properly proceed.” The Dendrite Standard Dendrite Int'l v. Doe No. 3, 342 N.J.Super. 134 (App. Div. 2001)

14 Non-Party Subpoenas: The 2theMart Factors Doe v. 2theMart.com, 140 F. Supp. 2d 1088 (W.D. Wash. 2001)

15 1.Is the subpoena issued in good faith? 2.Is the information sought related to a core claim or defense? 3.Is the identifying information directly and materially relevant to that claim or defense? 4.Is the information sought available from any other source. The 2theMart Factors Doe v. 2theMart.com, 140 F. Supp. 2d 1088 (W.D. Wash. 2001)

16 Some Recommended Practices for Protecting Anonymity oCreate a clear privacy policy oComply with your privacy policy oMinimize data intake and retention oNotify users of civil subpoenas seeking identity information oObject on behalf of users to obviously invalid subpoenas

17 A Few Examples, Good and Bad oManalapan v. Moskovitz oBurd v. Cole oFix Wilson Yard v. Chicago oAutoadmit oLesher v. John Doe

18 For more information EFF’s Legal Guide For Bloggers Matt Zimmerman, Senior Staff Attorney Electronic Frontier Foundation


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