EFF Files Motion Accusing Kraken of Attempts to “Harass & Silence Current & Former Employees”

TL;DR: “The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is asking a state court to protect the identity of an anonymous Glassdoor commenter who is being targeted by their former employer,” the EFF announced, referencing cryptocurrency exchange Kraken. The company believes employees violated voluntary entered-into confidentiality agreements, while the famous online activist speech organization argues for a fundamental right to expression. 

EFF Files Motion Against Kraken

“I love you guys but you’re wrong on this one,” Kraken CEO Jesse Powell commented in response to the EFF motion. “Confidentiality agreements are not a first amendment issue. We’re in a high risk industry and it’s a condition of the job. The issue here is someone accepted a cash payment or job in exchange for silence, and they weren’t silent.”

At issue is whether Kraken’s enforcement of those agreements violated online speech and anonymity laws. Glassdoor is a site where current and former employees go to dish about their work environments. It’s like an anonymous Yelp, allowing the disgruntled a chance to rant about their employers, and it poses a real challenge for companies looking to keep a competitive edge. It’s one thing to not like a supervisor; it’s quite another to reveal a business’ secret sauce.

Confidentiality agreements are not a first amendment issue. We’re in a high risk industry and it’s a condition of the job. The issue here is someone accepted a cash payment or job in exchange for silence, and they weren’t silent.

Jesse Powell, CEO of Kraken

“EFF filed a motion to quash a subpoena for identifying information of its client,” the advocacy group explained, “after the cryptocurrency exchange company known as Kraken filed suit against several anonymous reviewers seeking to identify them based upon a claim that they breached their severance agreements.” The client remains anonymous, J. Doe, and the EFF insists “Doe took care writing the review, as Doe had signed a severance agreement promising not to disclose confidential information or disparage or defame the company. Kraken publicly responded to Doe’s review of the company on the Glassdoor site, thanking Doe for the feedback and wishing Doe the best.”

At some point, that changed, as the EFF alleges Kraken “began targeting Doe and other former employees,” ultimately filing a lawsuit “claiming they breached their severance contracts and seeking to identify them.” The exchange also demanded former employees on Glassdoor review site delete their comments. The EFF claims Doe complied, and yet the lawsuit persists, prompting the motion, asking “the court to adopt stronger legal protections for Doe and other anonymous speakers, which require more than a mere allegation of illegal activity before the anonymity is breached.”

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