Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, has voiced many of these concerns himself, but he, too, doesn't see a valid legal argument for Port.
That said, he and other privacy advocates do worry about the legal precedent established, given the growing number of what are known as CyberSLAPP lawsuits. In such cases, targets of anonymous criticism file suits, often frivolous, just so they can issue a subpoena to a Web site or Internet service provider to uncover the identity of the authors and intimidate, embarrass or silence them. Cohen, in fact, has dropped her subsequent defamation suit, according to the New York Post.
"The notion that you can use the court as your personal private investigator to out anonymous critics is a dangerous precedent to set," Zimmerman said. "I think the practical impact (of the Cohen case) is that litigious people will see this as a green light to try to out critics."