I just read about a fascinating court case involving the Mortgage Lender Implode O-Meter. This case might impact whether bloggers (like me) have the same First Amendment rights as traditional journalists. Also, it may have an impact on whether websites can protect the identities of those who post comments anonymously.
By Josh Rogers on Thursday, November 5, 2009.
Case could decide if bloggers have the same first amendment rights as traditional journalists and determine if media websites can protect the identities of those who post comments anonymously.
At issue are postings on the website called Mortgage lender Implode-O-meter. That’s a Las Vegas blog that tracks the mortgage lending industry. Last year, the blog reported the Plaistow-based Mortgage Specialists had been sanctioned by the state banking department, and posted a confidential document the company had sent to regulators. In response to that posting, someone calling themselves brianbattersby then posted that Mortgage Specialists President Mike Gill was under a tax lien, and had bought his way out of a fraud committed in 2002. The lawyer for Mortgage Specialists says neither claim is true. Mortgage Specialists asked the blog’s editor to remove the confidential document, which he did, and asked for him to identify brianbattersby, which he didn’t. A Superior Court Judge ordered the website to permanently remove the posts and reveal brianbattersby’s identity — a ruling the website’s attorney, Jeremy Eggleton, told the justices was wrong-headed, in the extreme.
“The trial courts order violates basic principles the 1st amendment, of the US constitution and essentially tramples on the rights both of implode explode both to speak, and to publish and to speak, as well as on the rights of the public to receive information and speak anonymously.”
The attorney for the Mortgage company, Alex Walker, argued that his client deserves the right to identify brianbattersby, that the impode/explode website is in no way journalism, and doesn’t deserve the protections afforded the press by court precedent.
“All of the information they get is received by them, they don’t go out and gather news. The mission on their website is indicates that they are all about transparency education and accountability — that they add a little bit of editorial work to keep the site coherent. But they are not a news gathering outfit.”
Read the full story.
Well, I guess I better be careful before I blog about Boston real estate rumors.
File Under: “Blogs are not a news gathering oufit.” Really?