It is reported today tell that a US Court has ordered Google to disclose the IP address and email of an "anonymous" blogger.
This blogger had posted fairly strong - indeed insulting - remarks about an American model called Liskula Cohen.
She sought disclosure from Google of the IP and email address of the blogger. To their credit, Google seem to have insisted on a court order before disclosure.
The case is not yet about whether the remarks actually constitute a libel (an area of law which does exist under US law, notwithstanding the First Amendment guarantee of free speech) - that issue has not so far been tried; but about whether Google could be ordered to disclose IP and email address information of an "anonymous" poster to a potential plaintiff (in England, a claimant).
The New York Supreme Court appears to have made such an order.
But such an outcome would also be likely under English law.
In the Sheffield Wednesday supporter case of October 2007, the High Court ordered the disclosure of the details of a number of "anonymous" posters who had made serious allegations on a football discussion forum site. (In English law such an order is called a "Norwich Pharmacal" order after the leading case.)
And, as was seen in the Night Jack case (see my post here), the starting point for English courts will be that blogging is an essentially public activity, and so the author's identity cannot normally be protected under the law of privacy.
So in both English and (it would seem) US law, simply being anonymous on the internet is not an escape from potential legal liability and public disclosure.
One can, in certain circumstances, be held both legally and publicly accountable for supposedly "anonymous" posts and blogging.
If it is possible for a third party - such as Google - to be compelled to disclose one's email and IP address to a potential claimant, then that really is the risk one is taking when posting defamatory or other unlawful material on the internet.
One should never think of anonymous internet abuse as merely inconsequential graffiti.