For Immediate Release
Blogger Who Criticized FreeScore.com Has Right to Remain Anonymous, Public Citizen Argues
Writing About the Company’s Bait-and-Switch Tactics Is Protected Under First Amendment
WASHINGTON - Adaptive Marketing, a company that has drawn a bevy of consumer
complaints and negative media coverage for its FreeScore.com services,
should not be able use the courts to unmask an anonymous blogger in
retaliation for articles that questioned the company's bait-and-switch
business tactics, Public Citizen said today in a motion filed in superior court in Stamford, Conn.
The company, which uses TV personality and commentator Ben Stein to
hawk its offer of "free credit scores" to consumers, has filed a motion
with the court asking that Yahoo! be ordered to identify the blogger
behind the "flaneur de fraude" blog. Yahoo! was the target of the
discovery because "flaneur" has a Yahoo! email address. The blogger,
along with media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The
Washington Post, wrote about how Adaptive and its parent company
Vertrue, Inc., mislead consumers through schemes such as offering
"free" credit scores and then adding recurring charges to their monthly
credit card bills for other services. Under federal law, consumers are
entitled to obtain their entire credit reports free of charge from a
government-mandated Web site, https://www.annualcreditreport.com/.
Although Adaptive says the blogger's posts were defamatory, it has
provided no evidence to back its claims or shown that the posts caused
the company damage, said Public Citizen attorney Paul Alan Levy, who is
representing the blogger, along with local counsel Kathryn Emmett, of
the law firm Emmett & Glander.
"The right to criticize anonymously on the Internet is a fundamental
free speech right," Levy said. "The attempt to indentify the flaneur de
fraude blogger is nothing short of intimidation and is a violation of
the blogger's First Amendment rights. Corporations with deep pockets
should not be allowed to silence their critics with baseless claims."
Public Citizen's motion asks the court to deny Adaptive's request for discovery.
READ the motion.
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.