A redditor who has posted information about an organization associated with Jehovah & Witness has won the right to defend himself in court under a pseudonym. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, representing the user known only as Darkspilver, successfully claimed that by unmasking them they were at risk of being ejected by their community of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Not only does the statement mean that the identity of Darkspilver will not be revealed to the organization, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, but also that Reddit messages are protected by the first US amendment, regardless of where the user comes from. The judge leading the case ruled that the first amendment should apply because Reddit is an American company with an American public.
In February Darkspilver published a copy of an advertisement asking for gifts that appeared on the back page of the Watch Tower magazine. In addition, they placed a graph with the types of personal information kept by the organization. The EFF says they did this to raise concerns about the organization, but Watch Tower claimed that the post infringed copyright and sued Reddit for user information.
To unmask the Redditor, the EFF said that Watch Tower should have passed the "Do" test, which requires the organization to prove that its claims are valid and that disclosing the identity of the person is worth the potential damage. However, the court said that the post would probably be protected by fair use, meaning that it was intended for comment and criticism. The judge also rejected Watch Tower's claim that the Doe test should not apply because Darkspilver is not an American resident.
If the watchtower decides to continue with its lawsuit, only the counsel will learn about the true identity of Darkspilver and cannot share it with the organization. The EFF says that it does not agree with this final decision, but that it generally "celebrates a crucial victory for the First Amendment and access to anonymous speech for internet users everywhere."