Subpoena Guide for Identifying Anonymous Internet Posters

Related Practices

Attorneys & Professionals

Online attacks have become one of the easiest and most impactful ways for persons to damage businesses and individuals.  These attacks, such as defamatory online reviews, can originate from many sources and on various platforms.  Such internet attacks are frequently carried out anonymously, through the use of pseudonyms or other means of concealing one’s identity.

Internet defamation and other internet-related legal claims against anonymous defendants are often brought at the state level.  Accordingly, such cases call for issuing subpoenas at the state level — often to third-party websites in other jurisdictions.  Therefore, an attorney attempting to disclose the identity of a client’s attacker via a subpoena must be aware of the subpoena rules in his or her own state, as well as the rules in any other state(s) where they intend to issue subpoenas.

In other instances, it may be necessary to issue a subpoena at the federal level, which involves a bit of a different process, including usage of a different (federal) form.

Attorneys from the Vorys internet defamation group authored a Subpoena Guide to help attorneys navigate the complex process of issuing such subpoenas to websites and internet service providers in order to identify anonymous online attackers.

Click on the following link to download the “Subpoena Guide for Identifying Anonymous Internet Posters” (PDF).

Whitney Gibson, the leader of the firm's internet defamation group, is the primary author of the guide.  Attorneys Jordan Cohen, Colleen Devanney and James Kelly assisted with research for the guide.