Originally Posted by NaughtyNibbler
Just wondering how an insurance company could tie an anonymous poster on this website to some civil action.
Easy: in a civil case in some places, they can send a simple interrogatory during discovery that's now so common as to be routine -- it's a formal question under the discovery rules, e.g., asking you to identify all social media accounts, message boards, or other places on which you've posted about the dog, your username (and in some cases even your password to look for deleted posts). You have to send back a response that's complete and binding on you, with a legal obligation to be accurate -- so you'd have to identify this board, and your handle (at minimum), in response to a request about places where you made online statements about your dog. See:
They may also propound requests for copies of online posts about the dog or whatever the subject of the litigation is. Again, you have to send them. The interrogatories and requests for things like posts are simple form language that take almost no time to prepare --there's no significant cost in asking.
Then their lawyers will go over each one of the online accounts you identified and the posts they're interested in by asking live questions, in a sworn deposition, and end by asking if you left any off. It's testimony under penalty of perjury. Contempt sanctions are also out there as a penalty for lying in civil discovery.
None of your anonymous IP and other stuff matters -- YOU have to disclose when asked during discovery, it's almost always asked; if you don't, you're subject to serious penalties if caught.
Civil discovery isn't "optional." Getting at Electronically Stored Information in discovery is now so normal that it would be odd not to think of asking for it. Discovery doesn't get off the ground until a suit is actually filed, but it does happen eventually in most litigation.
YMMV depending on the state and/or country where you live. My answer only describes general American discovery practices patterned on the federal system. Much of American discovery is very different from the rest of the world, but it does even have some variation by state.