Wednesday, October 8, 2008

California Governor Signs Off On New Protections for Free Speech

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday signed Assembly Bill 2433 and filled a significant gap in protection for anonymous speech online. Authored by Assemblymember Paul Krekorian and co-sponsored by EFF, the California Anti-SLAPP Project and the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the new law allows speakers who successfully oppose the use of bogus out-of-state litigation to obtain their identities to recover attorneys' fees. Assembly members Sally Lieber and Anthony Portantino co-authored the bill.

One of the most pernicious threats to anonymity is the filing of trumped-up lawsuits as an excuse to force ISPs to reveal speakers’ identities. Once such a lawsuit is filed, speakers who want to protect their anonymity must find a way to pay a lawyer to go to court and prevent disclosure of their personal information. That can be a real hardship—in fact, even the threat of having to go to court may discourage many people from speaking out in the first place.
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