Charles D. Hankey was recently interviewed for his thoughts on a recent Indiana court case regarding free speech and internet anonymity. The case involved an anonymous poster, going by the username DownwiththeColts, who commented on an Indianapolis Star article about a Junior Achievement construction project’s funding struggles, saying, “This is not JA’s responsibility. They need to look at the FORMER president of JA and others on the board. The ‘missing’ money can be found in their bank accounts.” The former CEO, Jeff Miller, accused the commenter of slander and requested that his or her identity be revealed by the Star, which refused.
An Indiana court of appeals ruled in Miller’s favor, requiring that the commenter come forward in order to be identified. As Mr. Hankey noted, this decision was an important decision in terms of both protecting free speech while acknowledging the responsibility that individuals must take for their speech. Noting that the court determined DownwiththeColts’ comments to be “defemation per se,” Mr. Hankey outlines his reasons for believing the decision was correctly reached, noting that the person was “not really a whistleblower,” but simply someone who made baseless claims after the story had gone up.
You can view the video of the interview below.