Friday, April 24, 2009
Warning to readers: If you comment anonymously on Gannett newspaper websites, company reserves right to identify you to powerful who ask
Readers be warned.
If you sign up and register for a Gannett newspaper website, and then comment anonymously about an article, your identity can be disclosed to someone who asks -- in this case, a powerful local official in Wisconsin angry over continuing criticism by a reader.
The case in Wassau has resulted in the powerful public official sending a letter on government stationery threatening to sue the reader for libel since he commented on the official's weight and appearance in his criticism.
Gannett says its reserves the right to release your information for legal and business reasons. That's a really broad avenue. And it offers a potentially stifling impact on public comment in the marketplace of ideas.
To read more about the case, go to www.gannettblog.blogspot.com.