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Credit Suisse First Boston and Informix are the latest companies to file lawsuits against anonymous posters to finance-related message boards on Yahoo. Such message boards are proving to be a hotbed of legal activity, with companies accusing posters of making defamatory statements, sharing confidential information and spreading misinformation to prompt stock sales for their own benefit. In both of the lawsuits, Yahoo is being asked to reveal the names of the anonymous posters. The company used to make little or no attempt to notify posters before identifying them, but Yahoo changed its policy in April so that it now gives users 15 days notice before revealing their personal information under subpoena. Yahoo does not comment on lawsuits or subpoenas, according to spokeswoman Shannon Stubbo. The Credit Suisse First Boston lawsuit filed July 11 in federal court in New York asks for $1 million from a group of posters who allegedly libeled and defamed the firm by making numerous derogatory comments about a CSFB analyst. CSFB declined to comment on the lawsuit. Informix’s lawsuit, filed June 30 in Superior Court in San Mateo, Calif., requests unspecified damages and states that its employee-confidentiality agreement had been breached. The lawsuit also charges that a poster leaked inside information by stating that Informix’s fiscal report would be weaker than expected, several days before the company warned that its earnings would not meet analysts’ expectations. “We do not know who the poster is,” says Daniel Bergeson, who is representing Informix in the matter. “Nor do we know if there has been a breach in the proprietary rights agreement.” Privacy rights activists argue that many such lawsuits are being abused by companies trying to squelch legal free expression by intimidating those who make negative comments about the companies online. Many of the lawsuits are, in fact, dropped after the identities of the posters are revealed, and the employees are subsequently fired. Last year, for example, Raytheon sued 21 John Does who posted on Yahoo but dropped the lawsuit after they were identified. They included Raytheon employees, four of whom were then let go. Related Articles from The Industry Standard: Consumers Fight Back, Anonymously Anonymous Surfer Sues Yahoo Over Privacy EPIC Blasts Yahoo for Identifying Posters Copyright � 2000 The Industry Standard

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