New York Politicians Want to Ban Anonymous Internet Comments

A New York State Assemblymen wants to fight cyberbullying and “baseless political attacks" with a new bill that would ban anonymous web posts. The bill would make it so that all New York-based websites have 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," according to Wired's Threat Level.

The bill is the brainchild of Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte, who claims that it would eliminate “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks" and "turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity."

Republican Sen. Thomas O’Mara is also sponsoring the bill, which he claims will "help lend some accountability to the internet age."

But Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney with the Center for Democracy and Technology sees the bill as an overreach and a stifling of the First Amendment right to free speech.

"This statute would essentially destroy the ability to speak anonymously online on sites in New York," he said, adding that the bill provides what he calls "heckler’s veto" to anyone who disagrees with what an anonymous poster has said.

The bill would affect blogs, websites, and social networks, and would require operators to have a telephone number and a contact email to deal with takedown requests. Those making the takedown requests do not seem to have any criteria for filing a complaint or for identifying themselves…

At the end of the day, even if this bill were to pass, there's no way it could stand against a constitutional challenge in any court. Anyway you can read more about the bill here.

Source: Wired

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  1. 0
    Michael Chandra says:

    I got a unique name. Literally. And worst, due to things I have participated in, you could find out where to find me on a specific time with a simple Google search. So yeah, baaaaad idea.

  2. 0
    Infophile says:

    This has to be the first time I've ever heard of the "Heckler's veto" being an argument used for a proposed policy. It's a concept that's routinely considered a bad thing for free speech – unpopular speech is the only speech that needs to be protected, after all. If you censor unpopular speech (either directly or indirectly), you're violating freedom of speech.

    This all brings to mind the fiasco from when Blizzard wanted to mandate posting under your real name on their forums, in order to handle the troll problem. They didn't consider the fact that they might just be exposing their other users to even more personal attacks from these trolls, even after a CM who revealed his name got bombarded with fake pizza orders. Anonymity does protect trolls, but it does a lot more to protect people from trolls.

  3. 0
    Balance says:

    I imagine the "baseless political attacks" bit is the part Conte really likes. He wants a tool to shut down online criticism aimed at him and his fellow travelers.

  4. 0
    DorthLous says:

    You're working under the assumptions that this would remove more bullying capabilities than it would add. Did you consider that those things could escalate in the real world, an option previously near impossible?

  5. 0
    SeanB says:

    what i meant was that taking away anonymity was the right way to stop bullying, threats, and intimidation. NOT that it was the right move for the internet.

  6. 0
    Monte says:

    Indeed, identification goes both ways. The anoynmous nature of the internet is in a turn a defense against those who would like to use the internet to physically harm others. As its often told to children when they first start using the internet; never give out your personal info to strangers. They may be doing this to try an identify cyber bullies, but they are also allowing strangers to see the identity of innocent people… and what exactly is there to stop those cyber bullies from lying about their info? This bill is idiotic, dangerous, and unenforcable.

  7. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    So, if, say, a dispute happens on a forum, or say, in Call of Duty, they're perfectly fine with one party being able to track the other down and beat the ever living piss out of them.

  8. 0
    GrimCW says:

    i'd love to know how they'd enforce that though.. i mean, how many hosts are actually held in NY? yahoo was gonna have a base here in buffalo, but bailed due to taxes, and not many others would consider it..

    this would serve merely to drive more business out of state, and be an impossible task to regulate.

    then again these NY politicians love their stupid laws that'll get more of their buddies hired on to do literally nothing for a high paycheck off my tax dollar… i need a new state…

  9. 0
    SeanB says:

    In theory this is indeed the right move. But seriously, does he not know how the internet works? Does he somehow think that every website has a magical ability to determine everyone's actual identity? — Barack Obama, posting from Houston…. Yes, this is really me, Barack. Cause the internet never lies.

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