New York proposes banning anonymous online comments

A New York bill, proposed Monday in both chambers of the New York State Legislature, would combat cyber-bullying by effectively banning comments from anonymous users on New York-based websites, blogs, forums, social networks, and pretty much any other form of online communication, reports Wired.

Specifically, the Internet Protection Act's goal would be "protecting a person's right to know who is behind an anonymous internet posting." If the bill (A.8688/S.6779) were to become law, website administrators would be obligated to "remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post." All website administrators would also be required to provide a phone number or email address to receive such removal requests.

However, the measure seems unlikely to become law. No votes have yet been taken on the bill, and an attorney speaking to Wired seemed skeptical of its passage. "This statute would essentially destroy the ability to speak anonymously online on sites in New York," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney with the Center for Democracy and Technology. Bankston equated the bill to a "heckler's veto to anybody who disagrees with or doesn't like what an anonymous poster said."

The legislation is sponsored by Assemblyman Dean Murray and Senator Thomas O'Mara, both Republicans from New York. The bill intends to give power back to the cyber-bullied, because it "will offer them the opportunity to either confront the person making these comments by having that person identified, or have the comment removed all together in the case where this comment is false or slanderous," Murray said.

"The internet has been a great innovation for our time, it's brought forth a lot of advantages, but with that, there are abuses that come with it," O'Mara said. "This will help lend some accountability to the internet age."

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34 Comments

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It is apparent these "professional idiots" aka politicians don't think.

So the person who witnesses a crime etc, records it on a cell phone and posts will not do so for fear of reprisals.

I just read a story in "Wired" magazine, it detailed how the government of Libya was following posts, and harassing any poor soul who had the courage to dissent.

This proposal is stupid and waste of taxpayers time and resources.

Can anyone dispute that anonymous comments have led to the internet being the most uncivil place on earth? Things people wouldn't think of saying over a signature, now spout freely and frothily from keyboards.
I remember when our local newspaper stopped accepting unsigned letters to the editor. It put an immediate halt to the people who were too gutless to put their name behind their opinion.
While this law may be unworkable in its present form, what if the idea were adopted nation-wide, and even world-wide?
1) It would lead to a more civil society. GOOD.
2) Nations which violate human rights would more easily stomp on dissension. BAD.

Difficult dilemma. For most nations, however, I think this would be an excellent move.
And you will notice that I log in using my real name.

Funny they'll act on something this pathetic and negligent, but do nothing about real threats like the Federal Reserve and other scandals. Internet ID WONT fix the federal budget deficit!

Just another step towards an OPEN ID internet. Then, all that "cyber-bullying" won't be as scary as a big brother government watching your every move - then you'll really be worried! I can understanding legislation aimed at deterring real life bullying in schools, etc., but the internet isn't the same thing; you're most likely in the comfort and protection of your home when you're on the web. It's like people have become so weak and sensitive that they can't bear to deal with any kind of criticism.

Our constitutional rights have been established to restrain the powers of government from oppressing the people. I'd be more worried about being persecuted for my beliefs than some idiot 2000 miles away in the basement of their parents' house. common sense people, common sense! Oh wait - "common sense" must not be so common anymore, I reckon.

Drossel said,
Retarded politicians! >.<

The politicians are only acting on the spineless citizens that fail to realize that feeling harassed is a choice.

People are so touchy nowadays, I think majority will start crying like a baby when they'll hear "you're an idiot" or something even on the web. Grow up and get over it folks.

Religion or race jokes are something that will turn a corresponding social group into a TNT.

Silly.

All website administrators would also be required to provide a phone number or email address to receive such removal requests.

Yeah, great idea, because that won't be abused. Are they really expecting someone who runs a blog with comments from their bedroom in their spare time to sit around answering the phone to any fool who feels upset?

there always need to be a place where you can be anonymous and not have to worry about the ramification(s) for what you say.

I think all these people need to stop screwing with the internet which they CANNOT control.

If they want a network that they control and is within their specs, they should create their own set of domains that fall within their needs and stay inside those. They want a facebook that forces real identification without bullying, etc. MAKE ONE. No one is forcing them to use the internet as it is, but they really need to stop trying to change it.

Bah! Bad move New York legislators. I will vote against it and will be writing in. Bullying is bad, and tragic when it leads to suicide, but this is not a good idea.
Parents, educators, communities, and politicians need to work on bring back good old fashion values. Let the companies dictate their own policies on whether they want their community to be anonymous or not. Their patrons will decide if it is popular concept or not... but to force one size fits all on how people must express themselves through law is just not savvy - at - all.

Ooh. Turning off the computer or avoiding such sites or blocking people is oh so hard. We should force everybody to be identifiable, huh?

I don't get 'bullied' online, and I'm sure there are workable solutions that don't involve such stupid decisions.

I could see them being able to enforce that law for IP's that originate within their jurisdiction, and maybe "inter-state" if the US Supreme Court permits the Executive branch of the government (a.k.a.: FBI) to become involved.

On the other hand, bullying in cyberspace may already be subject to things such as libel and intimidation laws.... just a thought. There have already been decisions made which equivocate publishing on the Internet with publishing on paper or TV.

Online bullying may already be illegal.

This is possibly just a crap bill that all involved know wont pass. Though if there are enough of these that pop up in state legislatures then it will get more attention. Next thing you know: national Internet ID for all. Which I'm sure will become a reality in my lifetime.

marinejld said,
This is possibly just a crap bill that all involved know wont pass. Though if there are enough of these that pop up in state legislatures then it will get more attention. Next thing you know: national Internet ID for all. Which I'm sure will become a reality in my lifetime.
Didn't Obama actually make a comment about how he would try to push for that? I remember someone up top mentioning it.

2012 has been a disaster for the Internet so far. I blame it all on Facebook bringing too many stupid people to the world of the Internets. What's next, SOPA?

Facebook has little, if anything to do with 2012 being a disaster for the internet (unless you include their IPO). Stupid people always have and always will exist on the internet.

What we're seeing here is the world powers noticing how important (for us) and dangerous (for them) the internet is, and trying to control the worlds ultimate free speech platform.

Dad! some guy is wrong on the internet and I don't know who he is....make a law and ban him!!!

Edited by LAMj, May 24 2012, 3:41am :

hahahaha... hahah.... oh wait, are they serious? how are they going to enforce a ban on anonymous posting? apart from the name 'anonymous', the registered usernames provide no more information about who the users is that is posting.

The only thing a username does, is help identify who you are communicating with online.

I have several personas that I use online. I grew up when the internet ment that you didn't even give out your name let alone your address, national insurance, tax or credit card details.

Talk about laws that can't be enforced. Why don't we just make it so all websites follow html standards while we're at it?

De.Bug said,
Talk about laws that can't be enforced. Why don't we just make it so all websites follow html standards while we're at it?

Pass W3C validation or go to jail!