John Doe subpoenas: Toward a consistent legal standard

Abstract
This Note considers the rising trend of anonymous online harassment and the use of John Doe subpoenas to unmask anonymous speakers. Although anonymity often serves as an important shield for valuable speech, it also protects online harassment that can chill or completely silence the speech of its targets. This Note argues that the public figure doctrine should be adapted to John Doe subpoenas to distinguish between online harassment and more valued anonymous speech. It then divides John Doe subpoena standards into six constituent factors, evaluates each one, and proposes a final standard that consistently balances the needs of plaintiffs and defendants and helps judges to distinguish online harassment from other forms of anonymous speech.
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