A random Twitter account tags a Japanese company and badmouths it in a series of tweets. Because the tweets are tagged, a search of the company’s name on Twitter will display the tweets with the negative comments among the search results. Upset over the tweets, the Japanese company wants to sue the tweeter in Japan. But how can it? The tweeter has not used his real name.
This is where discovery under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 can help. Section 1782 provides a vehicle for companies or individuals seeking U.S. discovery in aid of foreign litigation—even if the litigation is merely contemplated and not yet commenced. Specifically, Section 1782 provides that a federal district court may grant an applicant the authority to issue subpoenas in the United States to obtain documents or testimony, including documents or testimony seeking to unmask an anonymous Internet poster to pursue defamation claims abroad.
To pursue Section 1782 discovery, an applicant needs to establish:
- that the requested discovery is for use in an actual or contemplated proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal;
- that the applicant is an “interested person” in that proceeding; and
- that the person from whom the discovery is sought resides or is found in the district of the court where the applicant is making the application.