Anonymous Defamation: Startup Execs v. John Does
- Tech marketing executives launch anonymous defamation suit
- Accused of “pump and dump” shenanigans
- Asking for court order to get ISP addresses of anonymous posters
- Similar anonymous defamation case launched last year by PETA foiled by hacker collective “Anonymous”
Paul Arena and Nathaniel Bradley — two mobile marketing executives who recently left Augme Technologies (a.k.a., Hipcricket) – are in hot pursuit of 30 anonymous online posters. Why? According to the pair, the 30 cloak-and-dagger posters committed egregious acts of Internet defamation.
Arena and Bradley already filed a John Doe defamation claim. Now they’re passing out subpoenas to several ISPs. Their goal is to get identifying information about the anonymous detractors in service of a defamation claim.
“The Bangbros of Pump Stock”
What accusations are causing Arena and Bradley consternation?
- Artificial inflation of company’s stock price right before resigning;
- Theft of investor funds; and
- General ethical shade.
To give you an idea, one anonymous poster dubbed the pair “the bangbros of pump stock.” Ouch.
Plaintiffs Ask Court To Force ISPs To Reveal Anonymous Online Posters
As is becoming increasingly common in business defamation cases, the plaintiffs requested a court order compelling Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to hand over identifying information about the anonymous commenters.
But Wait! Multiple People Can Have The Same ISP Address!
Getting a court order is possible in many anonymous defamation suits, but an ISP isn’t a unique identifier. Why? Because many people can share a single ISP address — roommates, families, apartment dwellers who share WiFi. Moreover, comments traced to coffee shops, libraries, and other public hotspots typically prove useless.
Now, the potential for mutli-person ISP addresses doesn’t negate the possibility of getting a court for identifying information, just means that all Is must be dotted and Ts crossed when crafting the request motion.
Last Year, PETA Tried A Similar Tactic In A Potential Anonymous Defamation Case. But ‘Anonymous’ Said, “Nah-Ah.”
Animal-rights advocates, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), tried to lobby a similar anonymous defamation lawsuit last year, but free speech advocates and a hacker collectives thwarted the non-profit’s efforts at every turn.
In fact, Anonymous – of Tom Cruise Scientology Video Fame – caught wind of PETA’s legal maneuvers. Unimpressed with what they felt was PETA’s attempt to stifle legitimate criticism via legal filings, the collective threatened action. Apparently, PETA was not looking for a street fight with Anonymous and eventually dropped their suit.
Are You In Search Of A Defamation Attorney That Has Successfully Handled Anonymous Defamation Cases?
Entrepreneurs, startups, and marketing companies often find themselves on the wrong end of a defamation firing squad — pegged by malicious word-bullets. Hey, it’s a competitive market out there – and some people cross the acceptable competition line in an (usually ill-fated) attempt to gain edge.
If you’re dealing with an unwanted entrepreneur, startup or marketing defamation situation, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law. Libel and slander law is our forte – but more than that, not only are we lawyers, but we’re tech entrepreneurs, too — just like you.