SW Legal studies in Business

No Internet Privacy for Employee Violating Confidentiality Agreement
Description Appeals court affirmed that Yahoo! must reveal the identity of a person who posted confidential information on a message board dedicated to information about a company. Since the message was posted by an employee who had signed a confidentiality agreement, the person lost her First Amendment right of anonymous free speech.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Internet; Message Board; Confidentiality; Employees
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Jean Doe, a/k/a moonshine, posted a message on the Yahoo! message board dedicated to information and comments about Immunomedics, a publicly-held biopharmaceutical firm. Her message stated that she was an employee worried about the company because of certain problems in Europe. Immunomedics sued Jane Doe, who used the name moonshine on Yahoo! for publishing confidential and proprietary information in violation of her confidentiality agreement and of her duty of loyalty. Immunomedics served a subpoena on Yahoo! seeking the identity of moonshine. Yahoo! moved to squash the subpoena, contending that moonshine has a First Amendment right of free speech and anonymous speech. The trial judge refused to squash the subpoena, requiring Yahoo! to reveal moonshine's identity. Moonshine appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Immunomedics' right to disclosure of moonshine's identity outweighs her First Amendment right of anonymous free speech. The company presented a prima facie case that moonshine is an employee and that the information she posted breached a confidentiality agreement signed by all employees. When one signs such an agreement, they cannot violate the agreement by trying to shield their identity on the Internet.

Citation Immunomedics, Inc. v. Doe, - A.2d - (2001 WL 770389, Superior Ct., App. Div., N.J., 2001)

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