Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 5, 2006

Legally speaking

Filed under: Alameda, Errata — Lauren Do @ 7:29 am

I don’t generally post on the weekends, but opened up my blog this morning to find that the comments section had imploded on me.  (Thanks for taking a crap on my positive note to start the weekend with folks.) With the threats of legal action and defamation, I wanted to post this bit of reading for everyone because you didn’t heed my advice to keep your noses clean this weekend.

And I will state my policy on moderating and commenting.  I don’t care if you are anonymous, you have a right to be and in light of recent “disclosures” of a financial nature I wouldn’t be surprised if more people were anonymous moving forward:

…The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the First Amendment right to speak anonymously: “author is generally free to decide whether or not to disclose his or her true identity. The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one’s privacy as possible. Whatever the motivation may be…the interest in having anonymous works enter the marketplace of ideas unquestionably outweighs any public interest in requiring disclosure as a condition of entry. Accordingly, an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.” (McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm)

While I reserve the right to moderate comments, and have done so in the past, I moderate very infrequently and generally do not do so unless by request by commenters who I feel have a legitimate claim and haved been unjustly attacked.  I think my lack of action in response to the latest request speaks volumes.

Whether or not your host, moi, is legally responsible for what you folks say in the comments, I submit this to you:

Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This federal law preempts any state laws to the contrary: “[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.” The courts have repeatedly rejected attempts to limit the reach of Section 230 to “traditional” Internet service providers, instead treating many diverse entities as “interactive computer service providers.”

Bloggers can be both a provider and a user of interactive computer services. Bloggers are users when they create and edit blogs through a service provider, and they are providers to the extent that they allow third parties to add comments or other material to their blogs.

Your readers’ comments, entries written by guest bloggers, tips sent by email, and information provided to you through an RSS feed would all likely be considered information provided by another content provider. This would mean that you would not be held liable for defamatory statements contained in it…

And I leave you with this piece of advice which I have been trying to do.  Don’t feed the troll and maybe it will just go away.  You all know who I am talking about.


  1. Even before I read your post this morning, Lauren, I had planned to apologize to all who read this blog for helping to feed the frenzy with my post last night. I plead crankiness due to a cold. I’m much better now.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — November 5, 2006 @ 8:54 am

  2. As somebody who is essentially an outsider, despite living here for almost a decade now, I have to say that I find the whole political process in the US disappointing.

    I had thought that all the name calling, personal attacks and negative advertising was limited to the national level, but it would seem from reading some of the comments here that it is just as bad at the local level. That’s depressing. If people living in the same town can’t have a rational discussion without personal attacks, what hope is there for progress.

    If this country is the model for democracy, then I would be very worried about the future of democracy in the world. The US version of it, at least currently, would seem to be nothing more than a thin veil over corruption and greed.

    Comment by John — November 5, 2006 @ 9:13 am

  3. In the 23 years I have lived in Alameda I have never seen our elections so filled with animosity, so I am hoping this is just a one off deal. I truly believe that all of the candidates have the good of our community at heart, even the ones I disagree with strongly. That is why it has been so hard for me to see people who I know personally have given up a lot to serve us as city council and mayor being attacked so violently. I hope that after the election, those people whose candidates do not win can try to keep an open mind about the ones who are elected.

    Comment by Kevis — November 5, 2006 @ 11:31 pm

  4. I lived in San Francisco which it known for its policial battles, Alameda is a lot worse.

    Comment by Joe — November 6, 2006 @ 12:52 pm

  5. Yes, I really can’t imagine anything worse than this Alameda election, no matter where, and the past year and a half of politics leading up to it. My point was, it is a new thing here, at least maybe since 1973 when Measure A was passed– I wasn’t here then, but my husband was. I love my house, my neighborhood and my neighbors in all parts of Alameda, but if politics continues to be like this I am going to have to tune it all out, because I really am stressed by all the vitriol.

    Comment by kevis — November 6, 2006 @ 1:33 pm

  6. Someone recently called me a TROLL when I made a statement about the elections. He then called me a “Christian” and accused me of using the new library (or allowing my kids to enjoy it). Then someone said I was a hypocrite for driving a Toyota. All triggered when I made a simple observation about “the Slate”.

    I just hope that it isn’t me!

    Comment by James Chen — November 6, 2006 @ 4:10 pm

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