Crypto-upstart subpoenas Glassdoor to unmask ex-staff believed to be behind negative reviews. EFF joins the fray

clicks | 5 days ago | comments: discuss | tags: cryptocurrency

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation has teamed up with Glassdoor to fight off a cryptocurrency exchange that is trying to discover which of its ex-employees may have dissed the firm online.
In January 2019, digital-dosh biz Kraken laid off a number of staff, said to be more than 50 in news reports around that time. Several unenthusiastic posts about the San Francisco firm subsequently appeared on workplace review site Glassdoor.
Kraken's parent, Payward, filed a lawsuit last year against Glassdoor to unmask people posting about the company, based on its suspicion that they were former employees who had violated the terms of their severance agreement. As is increasingly common, the agreement with former employees includes a non-disparagement clause, among other requirements.
In November 2019, a California court ordered Glassdoor to provide Payward with the requested user informatio. Glassdoor, also in the San Francisco Bay Area, did not respond to a request for comment from The Register about the situation at time of publication.
EFF staff attorney Aaron Mackey in a statement on Wednesday said Payward's subpoena against Glassdoor represents an attempt to harass and silence current and former Kraken employees.
"Kraken’s efforts to unmask and sue its former employees discourages everyone from talking about their work and demonstrates why California courts must robustly protect anonymous speakers’ First Amendment rights," said Mackey.
In the EFF's motion [ PDF ] to quash the subpoena, attorneys Mackey, Naomi Gilens, and Sophia Cope argue that Payward's demand should be disallowed for several reasons.
First, because Payward is required to identify specific statements that are actionable, which the company hasn't done; second, because their client didn't disclose any confidential information; third, because their client did not disparage the company or its leadership; and fourth, because California law does not allow a severance agreement to prevent a person from expressing an opinion.
The posts cited in the complaint – "It is my opinion that having 'The Kraken' represent your firm is very apt" and "I personally had a deep sense of trepidation much of the time" – are clearly opinion, the EFF motion asserts.
FYI – There's a legal storm brewing in Cali that threatens to destroy online free speech READ MORE...