A Texas judge ruled last month that the identities of anonymous commenters on a newspaper’s Web site were protected by the state’s new shield law, the Abilene Reporter-News reported.
The decision is part of a murder case the Abilene Reporter-News covered. The defense sought the identities of people who commented on stories about the victim and the suspect, claiming they were needed to ensure none of those people ended up on the jury, according to the newspaper. The newspaper argued that the information was protected by the First Amendment and Texas’ new shield law, which took effect in May.
Texas is at least the fourth state to allow shield laws to be used to protect anonymous speech on news organization’s Web sites, joining Montana, Oregon and Florida. This case also appears to be the second time the new state shield law has been used since taking effect.