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Re: Anonymity and free speech

Interested readers are invited to see that the issues are complex by
looking at :

On Mon, 2 Sep 1996, Greg Broiles wrote:

> Instead of discussing whether or not Esther Dyson or other EFF board members
> are personally comfortable with anonymity, let's talk about whether or not
> the EFF and its board members believe that the First Amendment provides a
> right to speak and associate anonymously. (I believe that the First
> Amendment gives everyone the right to wear a t-shirt which says "I am an
> asshole." But I have no interest in wearing such a t-shirt. And so on.) 
> I believe that it does, and that the Supreme Court has already made that
> clear. In [email protected], I'm thinking of _NAACP v. Alabama
> ex rel Patterson_, _Talley_, and _McIntrye v. Ohio Elections Commission_.
> (Sorry for the lack of cites; 95% of my stuff is still in boxes and I'm
> sending this via laptop and a Ricochet modem.)
> If the right to speak/associate in "real life" is protected by the First
> Amendment, I don't see why it wouldn't be on computers and networks which
> are located inside the United States. And if that right is based upon the
> Constitution, it will take a constitutional amendment or a big sea change in
> the Supreme Court to take it away.
> (I wonder if the decision in _McIntrye_ would have gone the other way if Ms.
> McIntrye were selling drugs via anonymous message pools instead of
> discussing school funding via windshield flyers.) Discussions about the
> utility of anonymity would be more useful if we were designing a
> communication system or a constituion from scratch; but that's not our
> current situation. Is there serious debate about whether or not the
> Constitution and the Internet allow anonymous communication? (I'm not asking
> a rhetorical question. If someone's familiar with an argument to the
> contrary, please tell me about it.) Both the Constitution and the Internet
> are difficult to modify quickly; we probably have anonymity (like it or not)
> for at least a few more years. 
> (I'm not trying to imply that US law is the only law, or that the rest of
> the world doesn't existy. But I don't know poo about the right to anonymity
> in other nations; and to a certain extent anonymity anywhere on the Internet
> is the same as anonymity everywhere on the Internet. Are other readers aware
> of other jurisdictions where anonymous speech is considered a right?)
> ----
> Greg Broiles
> [email protected]
> http://www.io.com/~gbroiles

[This message may have been dictated with Dragon Dictate 2.01. 
Please be alert for unintentional word substitutions.]

A. Michael Froomkin        | +1 (305) 284-4285; +1 (305) 284-6506 (fax)
Associate Professor of Law | 
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