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  #1  
Old 30 Jun 2010, 14:37
Reycer Reycer is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Real name: Mike
Forum Issued a subpoena

Ok, so I have a really HUGE question. Another local forum (it is a vbulletin) in our area, has been issued a subpoena by our local police department to disclose the names of it's posters. I just received a call myself that stated that one was also being issued for my forum. The reason; several posters at the other forum have allowed a LOT of slanderous accusations. Although they haven't EVER done that on my forum (because I won't allow it), they still want to confirm identites. My question is: Can they legally do that? Do I have to disclose the names? This would indeed violate a big Privacy Issue, and I'm afraid it could open myself up for a big lawsuit.

Not really wanting any "legal opinions" here. Just wondering if anyone has any insight on the issue.
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  #2  
Old 30 Jun 2010, 15:10
Marco van Herwaarden Marco van Herwaarden is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
This will depend on your local laws and the specifics of the situation, no general answer is possible. I suggest to get legal counseling if you really receive a subpoena.

PS Also verify that the authority that issued the subpoena is entitled to do so.

PPS I strongly doubt they can subpoena you for something that occured on another unrelated forum.
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  #3  
Old 30 Jun 2010, 15:47
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Reeve of shinra Reeve of shinra is offline
 
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I am not a lawyer and this is just my opinion ...

A subpoena would have to come from the court and be signed off on by a judge. Someones a law firm will send a strongly worded letter to try and obtain information so be careful of that.

If you do receive a subpoena, you can see what they are requesting and discuss it with a lawyer. You can generally get a consultation fairly cheaply and the state bar association (google it) can give you a recommendation for a lawyer in your area that specializes in this.

Since you didn't receive a subpoena yet, you can't really do anything yet. Especially because you don't know what it will or will not request.

If they asked for user information, you might be able to dispute it and put the onus back on the plantiff by showing what slanderous remarks were made on your site and, assuming there are none, fight it on the grounds that they do not know for sure that its the same people on both sites and not just a common name. That would be a paper thin argument though and a legal fights could get costly on your part.

Whatever you do, don't do anything stupid like make up names as Pant suggested -- you are obligated under law to provide the information if it is requested via subpoena and its not worth going to jail for tampering with evidence.
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  #4  
Old 30 Jun 2010, 16:16
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Sean James Sean James is offline
 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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I suggest cooperating with the police, give them what they want after you get the subpoena of cause.
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  #5  
Old 30 Jun 2010, 23:05
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TNCclubman TNCclubman is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Griffin80 View Post
I suggest cooperating with the police, give them what they want after you get the subpoena of cause.
^^this.

We also have it in our signup page, just to protect ourselves the other way.

"Your IP is recorded with your posts. Your identity will be given to the police if they ask for it, so watch what you post." Private messages are stored in the database and are not encrypted.
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  #6  
Old 01 Jul 2010, 00:35
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puertoblack2003 puertoblack2003 is offline
 
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If you don't honor the subpoena.They can lock you up for contempt. The subpoena was signed by the judge, the investigator must have some proof that he needs and it was granted.
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  #7  
Old 01 Jul 2010, 08:29
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Dean C Dean C is offline
 
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Real name: Dean Clatworthy
You should not ask for advice on an internet forum, you should speak with a lawyer immediately and also one that specialises in this area.
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  #8  
Old 01 Jul 2010, 18:29
BSMedia BSMedia is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Dean C View Post
You should not ask for advice on an internet forum, you should speak with a lawyer immediately and also one that specialises in this area.
The only logical advice in this entire thread.

But people are offering suggestions heres mine.

Don't give them up. Tell them it would be unrealistic, to resource intensive on yourself and there is no way for you to confirm 100% your information is correct and current.

That strategy has worked for ISP's, Google, Yahoo and many companies time in and time out.

Fight the man every step of the way, or before long you won't have the liberties you're enjoying now.

Last edited by Paul M; 04 Jul 2010 at 12:47.
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  #9  
Old 01 Jul 2010, 19:33
Reycer Reycer is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Real name: Mike
Thanks for the advice. I wouldn't under ANY circumstances lie to the the court, honestly don't even know why that was suggested, but anywho. So far they haven't subpoenoed my forum (as of yet) however the other forum did indeed receive theirs and the target is over the police chief getting nails thrown in his home driveway. He's mad, and he got the court to issue a subpoena for real names of those using the online forums in our area.
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  #10  
Old 04 Jul 2010, 06:23
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BirdOPrey5 BirdOPrey5 is offline
 
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Real name: Joe D.
Why would you even have the real names of users? If they willfully filled out their 'real' names in a 'real name' field then just go ahead on cooperate, obviously they don't care... Otherwise you can't give up what you don't have... I'd send a notarized letter to whatever address you need to respond to saying "As is customary practice for web forums of this nature we do not collect the real names of our users and are therefore unable to supply you with the requested information. If we can be of any further service please do not hesitate to contact us again." I also read somewhere that you can legally charge a fee for looking up said information that would have to be paid by the person requesting the info so if you do end up needing to do this document your time spent and bill them for your time.
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  #11  
Old 04 Jul 2010, 12:42
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TruthElixirX TruthElixirX is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Dean C View Post
You should not ask for advice on an internet forum, you should speak with a lawyer immediately and also one that specialises in this area.
This. Don't talk to police. Talk to a lawyer.
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