WICHITA, Kan. Lawyers representing the environmentalists behind a media hoax targeting Koch Industries Inc. have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the Wichita-based company seeking the pranksters’ identities.
The Washington-based Public Citizen Litigation Group said the lawsuit would have a chilling effect on anonymous Internet communications and basic First Amendment rights. In a request filed on Jan. 26 in U.S. District Court in Utah, the group asked a judge to quash subpoenas obtained by Koch Industries and issue a protective order.
The nonprofit advocacy group contends it represents the anonymous members of Youth for Climate Truth.
The dust-up stems from a bogus website and fake news release issued last month that falsely announced the company was changing its financial commitments on climate change to fund more environmentally friendly groups. The hoax included a website with a similar web address and homepage of Koch Industries’ official site. The companies that registered and hosted the website are located in Utah.
“What Koch needs to understand is people have a First Amendment right to criticize people on the Internet and that includes powerful corporations and government,” Deepak Gupta, the attorney for Public Citizen, said in a telephone interview. ...