Corporate Cybersmear: Employers File John Doe Defamation Lawsuits Seeking the Identity of Anonymous Employee Internet Posters

24 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2009

See all articles by Margo E. K. Reder

Margo E. K. Reder

Boston College - Carroll School of Management

Christine Neylon O'Brien

Boston College - Carroll School of Management

Date Written: October 26, 2002

Abstract

This article reviews the phenomenal changes in communications made possible by the internet, particularly in respect to the employer-employee relationship. Anonymous – and negative postings by employees who, when armed with the internet wield as much power as communications conglomerates. The authors focus on employers' recourse as to these postings in terms of the legal theory of defamation, along with the privacy and civil procedure hurdles that exist as employers attempt to unmask anonymous and pseudonymous posters. Questions arise regarding the rights of employers to control this speech and their reputations, and as a corollary, the extent to which the posters' identity and speech rights are protected. Courts must balance the rights of each party as they resolve the contours of speech, identity and privacy in the internet age.

Suggested Citation

Reder, Margo E. K. and O'Brien, Christine Neylon, Corporate Cybersmear: Employers File John Doe Defamation Lawsuits Seeking the Identity of Anonymous Employee Internet Posters (October 26, 2002). Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review, Vol. 8, pp. 195-217, 2002 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1494405

Margo E. K. Reder

Boston College - Carroll School of Management ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States
617.552.0410 (Phone)

Christine Neylon O'Brien (Contact Author)

Boston College - Carroll School of Management ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Business Law Department
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States
(617) 552-0413 (Phone)
(617) 552-0414 (Fax)

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