Lawsuit Cracks Open Online Anonymity

Part of the problem, Fertik continued, is that laws that made sense at the birth of the Internet age have not matured. It takes years to redress online defamation problems under the present regime. But, in the meantime, libelous comments easily found through search engines can sideline both personal and professional lives.

Although privacy and free speech advocates worry that changes to the law could "chill" online speech, Fertik argued that "the law can easily catch up without destroying speech."

But until then?

"The law provides the red dye for the scarlet letter," Fertik said. "It provides the ink for the tattoo that people create on Web sites like this."

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