Following from libel proof individuals to the realm of Twitter, and the “Wild-West” approach towards online statements, comes an interesting idea. It is given that most people will communicate anonymously on the web. So, if a person is a victim of libel, then how can he/she recover? The online service provider technically didn’t publish it, but only acted as the forum. The person who published the statement cannot be easily found because the statement was posted under a pseudonym. So, what if the online service provider could be forced to give up identifying information (e.g., name, address, telephone, email, IP address) of the commenting individual? How much is that anonymity worth? Is there a way to actually engage in defamation and get away with it?
How does anonymity make things harder?
Naturally, an unknown person is difficult to sue in court. The amount of damages he or she could pay is difficult to ascertain. While there are rules allowing a lawsuit without knowing the individual’s identity (which is common in some cases), however, it adds the difficulty in discovering the identity of the “Doe Defendants.”