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A Textual Analysis of the Influence of McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission in Cases Involving Anonymous Online Commenters

23 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2012 Last revised: 13 Mar 2014

Jasmine E. McNealy

University of Florida - College of Journalism & Communication

Date Written: January 4, 2013

Abstract

Internet anonymity and the boundaries of the rights of anonymous Internet speakers is a growing issue. The First Amendment also protects anonymous speech. In McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Ohio law that prohibited the distribution of anonymous campaign material. But the McIntyre decision concerned offline communications — fliers. A question remains as to whether the courts have or are willing to apply the McIntyre to anonymous Internet communications, and if so, is that application limited only to political speech. This study examines these questions in an attempt understand what impact McIntyre has had on the protection of online anonymity by presenting an textual analysis of cases in which subpoenas have been issued to identify anonymous online commenters.

Keywords: anonymity, Supreme Court, free speech, internet, social media

Suggested Citation

McNealy, Jasmine E., A Textual Analysis of the Influence of McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission in Cases Involving Anonymous Online Commenters (January 4, 2013). First Amendment Law Review, Vol. 11, pp. 149-171, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2102786

Jasmine McNealy (Contact Author)

University of Florida - College of Journalism & Communication ( email )

3062 Weimer Hall
PO Box 118400
Gainesville, FL 32611-8400
United States

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