The 100 million strong English language blogosphere is now missing one of its more popular residents from the UK. A High Court ruling in London this week determined that blog anonymity could be no more. A detective from Lancashire County, who has maintained a blog outlining his work and experiences in the department, was uncovered recently despite attempts to remain unknown. Though he had removed personal or otherwise revealing details from the cases he discussed on the blog, other members of the constabulary were able to identify them as ones that had come through their department. After some investigative work by a British journalist, Officer Richard Horton’s identity was revealed. Horton brought charges against the journalist but has now lost his case along with the hopes of bloggers throughout the United Kingdom. Officer Horton brought attention to himself and his blog when he began encouraging the public through his internet journal to act out against the police and the state as he believed them to be acting inappropriately in their given positions. The judge for the High Court determined that no person has the right to expect anonymity in such a fundamentally public sphere.
While no such case has ever come before a U.S. court, controversy abounds over the rights of bloggers. A simple search on blog anonymity produces a range of articles varying from how to make your blog anonymous and why you should maintain anonymity to how to expose the anonymous blogger and why their decision to stay in hiding is less than heroic. Just as the “Night Jack” blog from England served dual purposes in its opinion sharing and whistle-blowing capacities, many American bloggers have turned to the latter function for their own blogs. Feeling unable to expose the indecencies of their industries in public, many citizens have turned to the blogosphere to air their grievances in hopes of catching the eye of someone who can and will do something. Whether their intentions are good or bad, it probably won’t take long before the U.S. sees its own case of blog v. state.