Title: Negative comments online: SLAPPing the First Amendment in the USA

Authors: John N. Gathegi

Addresses: School of Information, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, USA

Abstract: Corporations that encounter what they consider harmful criticism posted on the internet have resorted to lawsuits against the posters, or where the posters are anonymous, have tried to obtain subpoenas to learn the identities of the posters. State legislatures and courts have taken a dim view of the tactic, terming it as designed to strangle public participation and in violation of the First Amendment protection of speech in the United States Constitution. Many states have passed statutes to combat the so-called |Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation| (SLAPP) and there is a move to introduce federal legislation in this area. This paper examines the development of SLAPPs and their relation to First Amendment jurisprudence, from a non-corporate viewpoint. It also discusses corporate attempts to pierce the anonymity veil on the internet and the corresponding legal responses.

Keywords: First Amendment; United States Constitution; USA; Bill of Rights; constitutional freedoms; free speech; Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation; SLAPP; freedom of speech; Anti-SLAPP; cyberSLAPP; anonymity; internet posts; negative comments; harmful criticism; online postings; virtual posters; subpoenas; poster identities; state legislatures; legal systems; law courts; statutes; federal legislation; jurisprudence; non-corporate viewpoints; legal responses; management; decision making; cyber harassment; corporations; internet; world wide web.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMDM.2011.043405

International Journal of Management and Decision Making, 2011 Vol.11 No.5/6, pp.301 - 311

Published online: 27 Oct 2011 *

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