In New York subpoenas were issued to help identify bloggers who were blogging about New York politics. Known as Room 8 the involved bloggers needed to get a lawyer to defend themselves, until the district attorney dropped the investigation. According to the New York Times story:
The demand for secrecy raised the unnerving prospect that prosecutors could quietly investigate anyone who posts comments online, while the person making those comments is unaware of and unable to respond to the risk. The tactic also robs bloggers of one of their most powerful weapons: the chance to spread the word and turn the legal attack into an online cause célèbre.
Lawsuits over information posted online are usually civil, not criminal — that is, they are filed by private citizens or companies trying to keep something off the Web. Courts have developed ways to evaluate the claims, often using tests to balance the First Amendment’s protections of speech against the harm caused by whatever someone wrote or said.
Using such an analysis earlier this year, a federal judge in San Francisco reversed an order disabling a Web site that allowed the anonymous posting of documents, after he weighed concerns about the order’s effect on free speech.
Bloggers concerned about possible litigation may want to check the privacy policies of their Internet service providers, to see whether they include a pledge to notify any customer whose site is the subject of a subpoena, Mr. Zittrain said.
One can only guess why the investigation took place, since the district attorney is remaining silent about the investigation. Which leaves one to guess that something that transpired in Room 8 stirred up a political debate which may have prompted the investigation. Posting of comments by being anonymous I feel is a right which should be protected.
What do you think? Should our rights of freedom of speech be protected?