Appeals court rules in favor of unmasking anonymous internet poster

Colorado Politics: For seemingly the first time in Colorado, the state’s Court of Appeals has ruled that a Colorado Springs doctor may seek to unmask the anonymous person or people behind a series of negative online reviews about her business.

First Amendment attorneys described the decision of the three-judge panel as an attempt to reconcile longstanding rules on defamation with the proliferation of online commentary that may target an individual or business’s reputation. In practice, internet anonymity can encourage the sharing of honest views on the one hand, while it can also act as a shield for inflammatory speech on the other.

“This opinion sets a nice balance between allowing these lawsuits to proceed — allowing litigants to try and uncover the identities of anonymous sources online — but it does offer an opportunity for opinions to remain protected speech,” said Jessica Smith, an associate with Holland & Hart.

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