Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Stand Up for CafePharma's Right to Say "Piss Off!"

CafePharma faces a dilemma: should it hand over names of anonymous posters to the House Committee on Commerce, which requested these names as part of its investigation of "who knew what when" in the ENHANCE investigation? Or should CafePharma tell the committee to "piss off!"?

The Committee sent a letter to Sarah Palmer, CafePharma's Webmaster/mistress, and her ISP asking for the names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and Internet protocol addresses of anyone creating posts prior to January 18, 2008 regarding the ENHANCE clinical trial.

It also requested that CafePharma "not destroy, dispose of, or tamper with any files or records relating to Merck/Schering-Plough and the ENHANCE study."

I am not sure what legal rights CafePharma has to refuse to comply, but this request is a serious issue for CafePharma and other "social network" Web sites whose members depend upon the owners to protect their anonymity in the exercise of their free speech rights.

I am not telling CafePharma what to do, but I think anyone who owns a blog or social network that publishes "anonymous" comments should speak up against this request. It's one thing if the information was required for national security or if the postings were death threats, but it's quite another when we are talking about insider trading.

I propose that the Pharma Blogosphere community draft a letter to John Dingell, Chairman of the House Committee on Commerce, protesting the committee's request and defending the right of CafePharma to refuse to hand over private information about its members. Please join the discussion on the Pharma Marketing Network Forum I set up to get some input in creating this letter. Or send me an email: johnmack@virsci.com

1 comment:

Pharma Giles said...

Being compelled to reveal the identities of contributors will kill CafePharma stone dead - which is just what Big Pharma wants, of course.

I'm not a huge fan of CP but it does give an outlet for whistleblowing as well as whining. It should not be compromised by such a clusmy legal move that I'm sure is actually unconstitutional.

Don't be a dong, Dingell. Or are you just doing the bidding of Big Pharma?