There are still many issues to be resolved about the Internet's unique status as a media technology and its legal status under current law. Debate over the propriety, necessity, and legality of anonymous speech has been protracted and pervasive. Indeed, this debate has extended to all corners of the Internet. The main source material for this Note is the recent case of McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, in which the Supreme Court confirmed its continuing commitment to preservation of the right to free speech, and interpreted the First Amendment to protect much anonymous speech. This Note will quantify how the Court's stance in McIntyre will affect future issues of anonymity as they apply to the Internet, which are likely to arise, given the highly controversial nature of the Internet itself, the ease with which anonymity is obtained there, and the Internet’s current position as a center of public debate. This Note will first summarize the pre-Mclntyre status of anonymity law; it will then discuss McIntyre itself, and interpret its constitutional effects. It will then address the Internet ramifications of McIntyre, showing how the Court's decision will affect various Internet phenomena in three settings: requirement of identification to use government-provided services; requirement of identification to gain access to the Internet through a private access provider; and requirements of identification in specific cases.
Note, Application of U.S. Supreme Court Doctrine to Anonymity in the Networld, 44 Clev. St. L. Rev. 521 (1996)