The owner of Boston-based Pageo Jewelry is suing an anonymous Yelp reviewer, “Linda G.,” who panned his store’s service. Now, Pageo owner George Pelz’s lawsuit has run into opposition: Yelp is being represented by Public Citizen’s Paul Levy, who has filed a brief (PDF) defending Linda G.’s right to speak anonymously.
In a hearing this morning in Boston Municipal Court, Levy will argue that the Pageo lawsuit must be thrown out. The case could set precedent in Massachusetts when it comes to determining when an anonymous speaker can be unmasked with a lawsuit. Only 14 states have clear rules about when anonymous speakers can be unmasked, according to Levy.
“We’re in this case because Massachusetts doesn’t have an appellate case on the issue,” Levy said in an interview with Ars. “I like to be involved in the first case in a state. We hope the court will recognize that consumers should have the right to share their negative experiences with potential other customers online, and companies should not be able to use the courts to bully them into silence.”
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