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    Daily Herald: Judge: Reveal who posted comment about Buffalo Grove official

    The Daily Herald (near Chicago, Illinois) reports on a case concerning anonymity and online comments:

    Cook County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Lawrence ruled the Daily Herald and Comcast must reveal the identity of a person who posted a comment on dailyherald.com directed toward the teenage son of Buffalo Grove Village Trustee Lisa Stone. […]

    The First Amendment protects anonymous free speech, but free speech online is still an emerging area of the law. Experts say it’s rare for a judge to order identification of an anonymous commenter unless the need to do so is clear — such as knowledge of a crime or a blatant threat. […]

    Stone demanded the Daily Herald management reveal the person’s identity. They refused, citing the privacy policy in its Web site’s terms of service agreement [… ] but the judge ruled against the newspaper, [said Daily Herald attorney John Kloecker.]

    As required, the Daily Herald turned over the person’s e-mail address and all of the other identifying information it had, including the man’s e-mail, age, ZIP code and Internet Protocol (IP) address.

    However, the e-mail account had been deactivated. So Stone filed another petition, this time against the man’s Internet service provider, Comcast, to get his name.

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