Internet Law

Legal Blogs Are Absolutely Outraged at April 1 Report of Anonymous Commenter Bill

The information about a senator’s proposal to eliminate protections for online commentary, posted on April 1, came from a blog with a name appealing to legal readers: McIntyre v. Ohio.

The case is a Supreme Court free speech decision striking down an election law that banned anonymous leafleting. According to the blog’s information from “a friend of mine in the GPO,” Sen. Joe Lieberman was proposing a law that would make websites potentially liable for posts of anonymous commenters.

Above the Law appeared outraged. “Joe Lieberman, the Senator from Connecticut who has evolved into a cartoon-level villain on the left, is at it again,” the blog said. The Daily Kos decried the bill to “end the Internet as we know it.” Simple Justice said the law “spells the end of discussion in the blawgosphere.”

The legal blogs, it turns out, were in on the April Fool’s joke. McIntyre v. Ohio was a blog created by Eric Turkewitz of the New York Personal Injury Law Blog, who has become well-known for his April Fool’s jokes, including a claim that he had been hired as the official White House law blogger.

“Since I’m now known (in the legal blogosphere) for running an annual gag, I created a new blog in February just for this purpose, to mask my identity,” Turkewitz writes. “Prior to yesterday, the readership of that blog had been six Bulgarian spam bots and that guy Ken from Popehat. Thanks, Ken.”

Corrected at 9:14 a.m. to change “GOP” to “GPO.”

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