The recent decision of the Delaware Supreme Court in Doe v. Cahill is interesting. Evan Brown of InternetCases.com gives a great summary of the case in his posting today.
The higher standard used by the Court before it would unmask the identity of the anonymous blogger is a good practice. The requester was required to show that he would be likely to succeed on the merits of the claim before the identity of the blogger could be revealed. Since Cahill could not prove that the statements were defamatory on their face, then the case was properly dismissed without the identity of the blogger revealed.
Looking ahead to the ramifications of the decision, I like the support given by the court to anonymous speech on the Internet. I am, however, concerned that relying on the difficulty in proving identity by technological means alone is a losing battle since the technology to identify users online keeps getting better and better. It may get to the point where there is no anonymity on the Internet when tracking cookies and statcounting code makes it possible to pinpoint the exact identity of users. It is easier in the print media to be anonymous since the technology cannot be embedded into the physical paper to track down the author.
Preserving freedoms online is always part of a delicate balancing act. The court in this case made the right call, hopefully other decisions to come will be as well reasoned.