New York Legislators Introduce New Bill That Will Outlaw All Anonymous Comments Online

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by Tambay A. Obenson
May 26, 2012 10:43 AM
13 Comments
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This is interesting, and the first I'm hearing of this... right in my own backyard too.

I think you all will be just as humored by it as I was, because, ya know, it actually affects you!

The short story goes... New York legislators want to outlaw all anonymous comments on the web, and have introduced what they are calling the Internet Protection Act.

Essentially, the bill, introduced on Monday by co-sponsors Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte and Republican Senator Thomas O’Mara, is an attempt to "crack down on cyber-bullying" by banning all anonymous commenters on all New York-based websites, including: social networks, blog forums (like Shadow And Act), message boards (like Shadow And Act), or any other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages (like Shadow And Act).

So pretty much the entire web, right :)

My question, without having read the bill, is how do they define an "anonymous commenter?" Will everyone be required to have some kind of internet ID created by the government (local or federal), which you'll then use to navigate the web, much like you do the real world with your driver license or passport?

Here's how the bill defines an anonymous poster:

ANONYMOUS POSTER IS 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.

Ok, so, unless I'm just not reading that correctly, that's just about every freaking person on the Internet right? Alrighty then!

And according to the proposed bill, website administrators (like myself) will be held responsble for the above, stating:

A WEB SITE ADMINISTRATOR UPON REQUEST SHALL REMOVE ANY COMMENTS POSTED ON HIS OR HER WEB SITE BY AN ANONYMOUS POSTER UNLESS SUCH 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.

A brave new world indeed.

I'm sure you can see where this would create problems, despite the fact that its intentions are well-meaning (at least, they appear to be). 

So all you out there reading this (not just the trolls; and God knows we hate Internet trolls), beware, because Big Brother is coming after ya!

And I thought the Republicans were all about less government.

Anyway... I'll just let Jay Smooth speak on it as he usually does so well: 

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13 Comments

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  • Monique A. Williams | May 29, 2012 10:39 AMReply

    The upside: Less spam. Less self-promotion.
    The downside: No more anonymity means people have to own up to their racism, sexism, classism, and whatever other-isms.

  • AnAnon | May 29, 2012 7:25 PM

    If people don't own up to their various bigotries under their real names why would it make a difference if some politicians (especially those who profit from drumming up these hatreds in order to stay in power) somehow "outlawed" anonymous commenting? This is a conspiracy theory on my part but I think this law is directed towards affinity groups like Annonymous who do not have any formal identifying names when they do their actions. Since anyone can be Anonymous, it makes it a lot harder for agents of the state to track them. I guess that the so-called lovers of freedom only like it when it comes to the freedom to plunder millions of people. Other than that, their ideal world would be like that described by George Orwell, one where a large boot stomps on the face of humanity forever and ever.

  • James Madison | May 29, 2012 1:25 AMReply

    Thanks for posting this.

  • From Tokyo | May 28, 2012 2:55 PMReply

    It won't necessarily get rid of the rude, ignorant, racist, etc. comments and such because I've seen too many people do that with their real names, through commenting attached to their Facebook. I think that moderators should double their efforts instead, and/or there should be more of them, especially on major sites like Yahoo, etc. Or they can create a sophisticated program to weed out the garbage. Everyone should be allowed to share their opinions, but sometimes it's nothing but blind hate/ignorance under the guise of freedom of speech. THAT, I could do without.

  • T'Challa | May 27, 2012 3:00 PMReply

    "America, land of the free".. yeah right.. with the Patriot Act and other legislation like this, there is becoming less and less difference between America and the so-called "repressive" countries like China, Iran, etc..

  • AccidentalVisitor | May 27, 2012 12:24 PMReply

    I don't think it will pass although I do admit that I feel some people on the web feel they can get away with saying anything simply because they are anonymous when doing so. These Republicans trying to pass this law should be aware that many right-wing zealots, who could fall under the Republican party tent, would be affected. Those folks love to go online and make the most blatant hateful and racist comments that one can imagine; the type of comments that 95% of them would not be comfortable expressing to someone face-to-face.

  • Anonymous | May 26, 2012 6:58 PMReply

    I don't think I like this sh!t.

  • Laura | May 26, 2012 4:53 PMReply

    Dollars to donuts, this bill has some SOPA & PIPA language snuck into it under that guise of protecting the public from cyerbullying. Come on, it's a republican sponsored bill for crissakes. Mark my word, corporate media has not stop trying to protect their interested because SOPA and PIPA did not pass. They are working day and night to get the laws they want on the books. It has will probably have the same detrimental effect on the bloggers and small internet business as the PIPA & SOPA bills. They bill probably switched word "piracy" with "anonymous commentary". Same isht, different bill.

  • Ava | May 26, 2012 4:29 PMReply

    I read and heard about this proposal a couple of times in the past 6 or 7 weeks now. While I wish there was more monitoring of the racist rants posted on Yahoo et al, I thought that this was the job of the moderators of the sites. Legislating such an idea sounds positively Orwellian and logistically impossible to boot. If anything companies that trade on the stock market such as Yahoo need to step up their monitoring of those racist posts or dismantle their Comments section. Why should every blog and message board suffer such invasions because the shareholders of Yahoo, Bing and what-have-you cannot do their jobs? I'm sure when someone reminds the GOP that they can't make money from it and it will, in fact, cost money, they'll drop it fast.

  • katie | May 26, 2012 11:06 AMReply

    If this isn't the most asinine thing I've ever heard. Don't they have better things they need to take care of? I swear, these politicians are useless.

  • No | May 26, 2012 10:53 AMReply

    I don't think this would pass First Amendment review due to the free speech component of that amendment. Personally, I've never have posted anything anonymously. As an author and writer, I stand by what I write without the cloak of anonymity. I think being non-anonymous keeps me honest and transparent: I'm not going to say something in which I can hide behind. However, if others prefer to do that, so be it. I don't see how the State of New York, or the federal government, could enforce the Internet Protection Act.

  • MulletLove | May 26, 2012 10:51 AMReply

    I guess I'd just have to go back to cutting letters out of the newspaper for my ransom notes and sending them through the snail mail again. This is insane; if it happens, cancel my subscription to the Inquisition--possibly to be known as the Internet of the future.


    ML

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