Doe v. Cahill

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884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005)

The Defendant anonymously posted allegedly defamatory statements about the Plaintiff, Cahill, on an Internet blog. Id. at 454. Cahill, a city councilman, brought a defamation action and sought to serve process on Doe by compelling the disclosure of his identity from Doe's ISP. Id.

The Delaware Supreme Court reversed the lower court's order to disclose, finding that the good faith standard applied did not sufficiently protect Doe's First Amendment right to speak anonymously. Id. The Court held that the standard must "appropriately balance[] one person's right to speak anonymously against another person's right to protect his reputation." Id. at 456. In order to avoid chilling anonymous speech, the Court chose a "summary judgment" standard over the weaker "motion to dismiss" standard. Id. at 457. It ruled that in order obtain disclose of an anonymous speaker's identify, a plaintiff is required to (1) undertake reasonable efforts to notify the anonymous poster that he is the subject of a subpoena or application for an order of disclosure, and (2) submit sufficient evidence to establish a genuine issue of material fact for each essential element of its claim within the Plaintiff’s control. Id. at 461.

Chapter 2 - Content And Speech Regulation
Obscenity · Communications Decency Act - Obscene Materials · Children's Online Protection Act (COPA) · Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) · State Attempts At Regulation · First Amendment · Anonymity · International Content Regulation