Online attacks have become one of the easiest and most impactful ways for persons to damage businesses and individuals.  These attacks, such as defamatory online reviews, can originate from many sources and on various platforms.  Such internet attacks are frequently carried out anonymously, through the use of pseudonyms or other means of concealing one’s identity.

Internet defamation and other internet-related legal claims against anonymous defendants are often brought at the state level.  Accordingly, such cases call for issuing subpoenas at the state level — often to third party websites in other jurisdictions.  Therefore, an attorney attempting to disclose the identity of a client’s attacker via a subpoena duces tecum (for the production of documents) must be aware of the subpoena rules in his or her own state, as well as the rules in any other state(s) where they intend to issue subpoenas.

In other instances, it may be necessary to issue a subpoena at the federal level, which involves a bit of a different process, including usage of a different (federal) form.

The downloadable Subpoena Guide is intended to help attorneys navigate the complex process of issuing such subpoenas to websites and internet service providers in order to identify anonymous online attackers. It provides a detailed overview of the steps to be taken and items to be considered in various circumstances.

This includes the potential need to request commissions or letters rogatorys from a judge; different rules in various states; the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA); what to actually request in a subpoena; and issuing subpoenas to internet service providers based on an IP address obtained from a third party website.

Click on the following hyperlink to download the “Supoena Guide for Identifying Anonymous Internet Posters” (PDF).