Comcast reveals subscriber in online comments case

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Comcast Cable Communications has given a local politician from northern Illinois the identity of an Internet service subscriber whose account was used to post an anonymous comment online suggesting the politician molests children.

Andrew Smith is the attorney for Stephenson County board Chairman William Hadley, who lives in Freeport. Smith said Thursday that Comcast identified Freeport attorney Franklin Cook as the subscriber.

The move comes after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider Cook's appeal in the case. Lower courts ruled that service providers have no obligation to withhold a commenter's identity if their statements could be considered defamatory.

Hadley now plans to pursue a defamation case against Cook.

Cook's attorney acknowledges Cook was the subscriber but won't say whether he wrote the comment.

The case has played out amid growing concerns about anonymous Internet users' potentially damaging comments.