End of Anonymous Online Comments?
Last month an Illinois state senator – introduced a bill that would outlaw anonymous internet posts/comments – in the land of Lincoln. The bill died a quick death when it was withdrawn due to a flood of negative feedback. This was not the first attempt to regulate anonymous online commentary, in 2012 similar legislation was introduced in New York in an effort to fight “the Internet’s cloak of anonymity to bully our children and make false accusations against local businesses and elected officials.”
Illinois Senate Bill 1614:
Introduced 2/13/2013, by Sen. Ira I. Silverstein
SYNOPSIS AS INTRODUCED: New Act Creates the Internet Posting Removal Act. Provides that a web site administrator shall, upon request, remove any posted comments posted by an anonymous poster unless the anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate.
From the bill:
“Anonymous poster” means any individual who posts a message on a web site including social networks, blogs, forums, message boards, or any other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages..
—blogs.chicagotribune.com | Feb 21, 2013 | Eric Zorn
…Jeff Jarvis notes the ultimate irony that the very same Ira I. Silverstein, just days after introducing that bill to effectively ban internet anonymity, proposed another bill to keep gun owner info anonymous, amending the freedom of information act to exempt firearms ownership data from being available to the public.
Whatever you might believe about anonymous comments and/or gun ownership, it’s difficult to put both of these laws together and not see some sort of extreme hypocrisy.
—techdirt.com | Feb 19, 2013 | Mike Masnick
Not the First Attempt
The New York State Assembly sought the passage of a similar bill in May 2012, and Arizona lawmakers worked to ban Internet trolling altogether in April 2012. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law in May 2012, but only after the contentious language was cut.
Local lawmakers took similar action in Tennessee in 2012, when the Shelby County Commission pressed for a court order to reveal the identities of online commentators who posted nearly 9,000 comments on Memphis news site, Commercial Appeal.
—dailycaller.com | Feb 21, 2013
Effort to Combat Cyber-Bullying
So the proposed New York legislation is a head-scratcher. Wired notes that it stems from an attempt to combat cyber-bullying, referencing an opinion piece by New York Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte, who argues the bill would “[turn] the spotlight on cyber-bullies by forcing them to reveal their identity or have their post removed.” And Betabeat reports that the bill started with New York Assemblyman Dean Murray, who was himself anonymously accused of domestic violence toward his ex-wife and son in 2010. “The thing that disturbed me the most about it was, once everything was proven false, there was no way to get the comments down,” said Murray. “The important thing here is to give the victims a voice and an opportunity to protect themselves.”.
—techland.time.com | May 24, 2012 | Matt Peckham
What do you think? Do anonymous online comments bother you? Should online posters be required to reveal their real names?
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