Companies and their employees at times face the difficult issue of protecting themselves from cybersmears by anonymous Internet users. One of the most problematic issues is the tension between identifying what is protected speech under the First Amendment and the standard that must be met in order to obtain the identity of an anonymous poster who has used the Internet to spread damaging statements.

While this tension has been discussed by a number of courts throughout the country, the Sixth District Court of Appeal in California recently added to the complexity of the issue when it weighed in on the different standards used to determine when the identity of anonymous Internet posters can be compelled. In Krinsky v. Doe 6, 08 C.D.O.S. 1658, the court of appeal recognized the First Amendment protections afforded to Internet users as well as the “harsh and unbridled invective” that often characterizes cyberdiscussion.

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