Internet anonymity may foster negativity in some cases, but the ability for reviewers to express opinions anonymously can also help consumers make better decisions. A ruling on the case Deborah Thomson v. Jane Doe, out today, has reinforced the protection of that online anonymity, with the Washington state Court of Appeals denying access to the identity of an anonymous reviewer who left comments about a lawyer on Avvo Inc. Avvo offers a directory service that contains ratings and contact information for 97 percent of U.S. lawyers.

In May of 2014, Florida-based divorce attorney Deborah Thomson filed suit against an anonymous poster who had negatively rated her performance on an Avvo profile. Her complaint alleged that the anonymous reviewer was not a client, and that the comment was defamatory in nature. In June, Thomson filed a subpoena in a King County Superior Court that requested the identity of the reviewer.

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