In a recent decision, the Virginia Court of Appeals (the “Court”) has ruled that Yelp, the popular business review website, must disclose information about seven users who posted critical reviews of a carpet cleaning business.
In Yelp, Inc. v. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning, Inc., No. 0116-13-4 (Jan. 7, 2014), Yelp appealed an order from the Circuit Court for the City of Alexandria, which had held Yelp in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena duces tecum served upon it by Hadeed. Yelp’s main argument on appeal revolved around the First Amendment’s protection to speak anonymously. The Court upheld the contempt order, and dealt a blow to the anonymity of online speech in the Commonwealth.