The Register: Anonymity no protection for online libellers

Steve Schear s.schear at
Thu Mar 24 12:08:13 PST 2005

The tenuous nature of online anonymity was underlined yesterday, thanks to 
the final ruling in the Motley Fool libel case.

Terry Smith, chief executive of city firm Collins Stewart Tullett, won 
undisclosed damages from Jeremy Benjamin, a fund manager. Benjamin had 
posted what he now accepts as false allegations on the Motley Fool forum, under the pseudonym "analyser71".


Mark Weston, technology law specialist at MAB Law, says the ruling was 
another link in the chain of judicial authority saying that you cannot be 
anonymous. He likened this element of the ruling to cases where ISPs have 
been forced to reveal the identity of filesharers to the British 
Phonographic Industry (BPI).

"It should make posters more careful. The supposed anonymity online is only 
temporary," he told us. "Just as in the offline world, as long as someone 
knows who you are, they can be forced to reveal your identity."

[Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead]

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