Anonymous posters to Internet message boards can keep their identities under wraps in most cases, a New Jersey state appeals court has ruled. In a victory for online anonymity, the court said people who posted messages critical of Dendrite International do not have to reveal their names.
Dendrite, a maker of sales-force technology, sued to reveal the identities of several message-board posters, claiming they posted false statements about the company. The court set guidelines for lower courts when companies seek the names of anonymous posters, although it said each case should be decided individually. As message boards have become increasingly popular forums for people to criticize corporate America, many companies have filed so-called John Doe lawsuits in an attempt to learn the identities of their critics.