Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Lawsuits may rattle blogs, privacy at risk

I feel that the recent local 'controversy' swirling around the once-anonymous partisan blogger (Michael Brodkorb) penning Minnesota Democrats Exposed is blown entirely out of proportion. The problem stems from being anonymous in the first place. On the internet, each and every person has the freedon to be somewhat anonymous (with the exception of being able to track your ISP and IP number) without much in the way of repercussions.

This may have changed with the approval of a law passed in December which was conveniently buried in a pile of women's safety legislation and is a logical extension of the privacy-invading provisions in the twice-approved Patriot Act. The legislation makes it illegal to communicate 'annoying' messages anonymously via the internet. Whether that means leaving comments on forums, message boards, blogs or sending spam e-mail or other e-mail remains to be clarified.

While a few of those possibilities are endlessly annoying, others are simply freedoms we have come to expect in the internet age.

For the time being, though, I am not going to split hairs with the local lawsuit of New School Communications vs. MDE. He is certainly free to write any form of text he feels compelled to. Doing so anonymously (and by being a GOP employee), though, leaves him (Brodkorb) open to infinite criticism in the way of turstworthy 'reporting'. While many blogs simply offer their take on the news which is already broadcast in multiple formats, MDE offered up 'juicy' tidbits but failed to disclose sources of his 'news' and by being anonymous, checked his credibility at the door.

The fellow offering up this lawsuit (Blois Olson), however, is suing for libel. While the damage was small, relatively speaking, his suit is largely frivolous. The writer at MDE was formerly a GOP employee and by connecting the dots, you can easily spot his motives. Unmasking him did nothing more than open the way for more lawsuits which will do nothing more than anger some and scare others away from voicing their opinion. These two have taken their political squabbling entirely too far and need to check their egos at the door much in the manner that Brodkorb checked his credibility there by being anonymous. After all, the internet is much like the old west, let's keep it that way and think twice before you sue someone to prove a point.

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