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MFIA Team Files Amicus Urging Protection of Anonymous Online Critic

The Media Freedom and Information Access Practicum (MFIA), along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), has filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Illinois Court of Appeals to block the unmasking of an anonymous online writer who criticized a political candidate in the comments section of a local newspaper’s website.

Asserting that the First Amendment provides qualified protection for anonymous speakers, MFIA and EFF urged Illinois courts to recognize this protection by instituting the same process established by other courts across the country, as in Dendrite Int’l, Inc. v. Doe No. 3.

According to the brief, “Because Illinois courts have yet to articulate a consistent approach to evaluate discovery requests seeking the identity of online critics, this case is of particular consequence.”

Margot Kaminski ’10, a founding director of MFIA, said, “The viability of newspaper websites as forums for such political discussion and whistleblowing is at stake.”

The full brief is available here. More coverage from the EFF is available here.

MFIA, an initiative of the Information Society Project and the Knight Law & Media Program at Yale Law School, was founded by four Yale Law School students to defend the public’s right of access to government information and to support traditional and emerging forms of newsgathering.