The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced that it will be protecting former Kraken employees from being targeted by the exchange over reviews they left.

The EFF, a non-profit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world, has asked a state court to protect the identity of anonymous commenter on workplace review site Glassdoor, who is now reportedly being targeted by their former employer Kraken. 

According to a post published Wednesday, the EFF has filed a motion to strike down a subpoena for identifying information on the anonymous client, which was originally put forth by cryptocurrency exchange Kraken. Kraken has filed a suit against multiple anonymous reviewers, seeking to identify the former employees based upon a claim of a breach in severance agreements. 

The EFF says multiple anonymous comments were made to Glassdoor about the exchange Kraken following a series of layoffs. The EFF client referenced in the post, monikered as “J. Doe,” originally wrote a review of the workplace, taking care not to breach their severance agreement with the exchange. 

While Kraken initially responded to the review by thanking the anonymous client for their feedback, the company made an abrupt change in course in May 2019. The EFF claims that Kraken filed a lawsuit against J. Doe and nine other defendants, citing a breach in contracts. The exchange also reached out to former employees and demanded they delete any workplace reviews. 

EFF Staff Attorney Aaron Mackey said, 

This litigation is designed to harass and silence current and former Kraken employees for speaking about their experiences at the company.

He continued, 

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.

In the motion filed Tuesday, EFF asked the Superior Court in Marin County, California, to adopt stronger legal protection for its clients and other anonymous speakers, who require more than “a mere allegation of illegal activity” before allowing the breach in anonymity. 

EFF Frank Stanton Legal Fellow Naomi Gilens said, 

Kraken cannot show that Doe’s review was defamatory or otherwise unprotected by the Constitution, so it instead seeks to leverage its contract claims to identify, and potentially retaliate against, Doe.

She concluded, 

Given Kraken’s tactics, we are asking the court to embrace stronger First Amendment protections for Doe and anyone else who is targeted for speaking out.

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