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Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project
Anonymity Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY
- Privacy
- Fair Info Practices
- 4th Amendment
- - ECPA
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- - Info Law
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- Reference


Anonymity can be viewed as the convergence of three large policy concerns: First Amendment, Privacy, Security

First Amendment

Derived From: In re Anonymous Online SpeakersPDF, DC No 3:07-cv-00505-ECR-RAM (9th Cir. July 12, 2010)

First Amendment protection for anonymous speech was first articulated a half-century ago in the context of political speech, Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60, 64-65 (1960), but as the Supreme Court later observed, the Talley decision harkened back to "a respected tradition of anonymity in the advocacy of political causes." McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334, 343 (1995). Undoubtedly the most famous pieces of anonymous American political advocacy are The Federalist Papers, penned by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, but published under the pseudonym "Publius." Id. at 344 n.6. Their opponents, the Anti- Federalists, also published anonymously, cloaking their real identities with pseudonyms such as "Brutus," "Centinel," and "The Federal Farmer." Id.

First Amendment protection for anonymous speech was first articulated a half-century ago in the context of political speech, Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60, 64-65 (1960), but as the Supreme Court later observed, the Talley decision harkened back to "a respected tradition of anonymity in the advocacy of political causes." McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334, 343 (1995). Undoubtedly the most famous pieces of anonymous American political advocacy are The Federalist Papers, penned by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, but published under the pseudonym "Publius." Id. at 344 n.6. Their opponents, the Anti- Federalists, also published anonymously, cloaking their real identities with pseudonyms such as "Brutus," "Centinel," and "The Federal Farmer." Id.

The right to speak, whether anonymously or otherwise, is not unlimited, however, and the degree of scrutiny varies depending on the circumstances and the type of speech at issue.1 Given the importance of political speech in the history of this country, it is not surprising that courts afford political speech the highest level of protection. Meyer v. Grant, 486 U.S. 414, 422, 425 (1988) (describing the First Amendment protection of "core political speech" to be "at its zenith"). Commercial speech, on the other hand, enjoys "a limited measure of protection, commensurate with its subordinate position in the scale of First Amendment values," Bd. of Trustees of SUNY v. Fox, 492 U.S. 469, 477 (1989), as long as "the communication is neither misleading nor related to unlawful activity." Central Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Public Serv. Comm'n of N.Y., 447 U.S. 557, 564 (1980).

Whistle blower rights

Security

Papers

Notes

News

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