The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on the issue of retaining anonymity online:
[T]he legal questions surrounding anonymous Internet postings are becoming a bigger issue, experts say. […] But the courts have said information about a poster’s identity should only be available if it’s for a court case and not just to seek retribution. […]
“People believe that they’re acting anonymously on the Internet, and to a certain extent that may be true,” said media attorney Peter Canfield, who represents The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But people have virtually no privacy on the Internet. When you go online, you leave tracks that can be followed and traced.”
In Texas, a federal judge has already ruled that companies such as Topix.com must surrender IP addresses — the normally private numeric code that identifies users’ computers — in response to a court subpoena. […]
In some places, libel or defamation is a crime, unlike Georgia where itâ€™s a civil matter. […]Â In Colorado, for example, itâ€™s a crime to post on the Internet false information that defames someone with accusations of criminal acts, marital infidelity, dishonesty or having a disease.
The Delaware Supreme Court was the first to rule that subjects of critical Internet postings cannot track IP addresses simply to take retribution. Canfield said that decision is considered the leading case on the topic.
And, Canfield said, the sites are not responsible for the words of the posters.