A Hartford police lieutenant is going to court against the operator of a blog critical of Hartford politicians and members of the police department. The case raises issues of freedom of speech and responsibility for that speech.
Benvenuto alleges that one commenter even impersonated him in order to hurt his reputation. If the commenters turn out to be Hartford police officers, they could find themselves in violation of the department’s social media policy, according to the lawsuit.
Benvenuto’s attorney, Patrick Tomasiewicz, wants the names of those who posted the comments.
“You should not be able to use a blog as a demagogic forum to attack the sensibilities or the reputation of a good man or woman,” Tomasiewicz said.
But blogger Kevin Brookman’s lawyer, Robert Killian Jr., argues in court papers that state law gives special protection to media organizations, preventing them from being forced to disclose information.
Brookman claims those protections apply to sites like his.
The blogger also argues that the anonymous comments are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment and the federal Communications Decency Act.
The legal action is in the preliminary stages, in which Benvenuto is seeking to collect information.
The Hartford Courant was one of the first to report the story.