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All users posting to websites would have to post their real name and address, non-compliant posts would be axed

When people think anonymity, Anonymous and their iconic Guy Fawkes masks often pop into mind these days.  But long before the members of that controversial hacker collective were a mere twinkle in their mothers' eyes, another anti-authoritarian rabble-rouser was using anonymous protest to stir up revolt against a totalitarian ruling elite.  His name was Thomas Paine, and his anonymously published work Common Sense helped ignite the colonists in revolution against Britain.

I. Want to Post?  Put Your Legal Name and Address Here!

Yet today in the country that Thomas Paine's anonymous writings helped to give birth to, a country in which speech is supposedly free, something alarming is happening.  Several states are looking to outlaw online anonymity.

New York is among them.  The State Senate is contemplating Bill S6779 a measure that would force users to post (and verify) their home address, IP address, and legal name in any post they make online.

That's right; New York is considering laying waste to privacy and anonymous speech in the name of "preventing" online bullying.  The bill describes:

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. All web site administrators shall have a contact number or e-mail address posted for such removal requests, clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted.

It's unclear exactly how much support the bill has in the State Senate.  It was introduced just over two months ago by Sen. Thomas F. O'Mara (R—Big Flats).  

Senator Thomas O'Mara
New York Republican State Senator Thomas O'Mara wants to force anonymous internet posters to surrender their right to anonymous free speech.
[Image Source: Thomas O'Mara]

Under the plan, New York State law enforcement officials and employees would be taxed with -- using taxpayer money -- sending takedown requests to websites.  Of course, the irony is that the law is grossly out of line with federal laws -- and likely unconstitutional -- thus if a website is hosted by out of state companies New York regulators might have no way of "forcing" websites like 4Chan or blogs to expose their users.

II. First Amendment, Anyone?

Such a practice would be unacceptable to most web businesses involving user-generated posts.  Not only would it violate user privacy and raise legal liability issues, it would also likely decrease participation.  At the same time it would hit sites with a double whammy by requiring them to pay for expensive code additions and extra administration.

The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Several state laws prohibiting anonymous pamphlets have already been ruled unconstitutional.  See Talley v. California (1960) and McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission (1995), for Supreme Court rulings defending citizens' right to anonymous speech and printed works.

Supreme Court
Despite at least two Supreme Court rulings beating them back, states' effort to ban anonymous free speech has persisted into the digital era [Image Source: City-Data]

Thus, one thing is for sure -- if New York does adopt this wild restriction of civil liberties, it will surely be swiftly challenged.  And based on past precedent, it will almost certainly be ruled illegal on First Amendment grounds.

Sources: NY State Senate, AP



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This is not a bad idea!
By EricMartello on 5/27/2012 3:46:11 PM , Rating: 0
I think the initial reaction to everyone here is to automatically oppose this but that's because you're a bunch of puss1es. I post under my real name and have been doing so for years. Why not?

Anonymity is the reason the internet is full of trolls, douchebags and overly opinionated idiots. Outlawing anonymity would pretty much eliminate this which is not a bad thing from my perspective.

It's not an "attack on the 1st amendment" as it's sure to be presented. It's an attack on puss1es who won't say sh1t to your face but can't shut up when they have a wall of text to hide behind.

If you can't or won't speak without revealing who you are, that which you have to say is generally worthless.




RE: This is not a bad idea!
By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2012 10:01:59 PM , Rating: 2
Remember Michael Asher? He was a pretty good writer here on DT. I dare say one of the best. Problem was, if this can be considered to be a problem, he wrote articles that didn't conform to the establishment average Internet radical wacko viewpoint.

He dissapeared one day and just up and stopped writing for Daily Tech. Turns out that there's enough information on the Internet about someone that, just with a name, you can find out someones address, phone number, family photos, place of employment etc etc.

Michael Asher apparently stopped writing because someone didn't like what he was saying and threatened him and his family in a very personal and disturbing way. If he was using a handle, and not his real name, none of this would have happened.

Long story short, grow up. Anonymity isn't just for "puss1es" on the Internet.


RE: This is not a bad idea!
By Anonymouse123 on 5/28/2012 2:50:40 PM , Rating: 2
That's hilarious. What proof do you have that your user name is, in fact, your real name. I challenge you to furnish some sort of proof.


RE: This is not a bad idea!
By Anonymouse123 on 5/28/2012 10:50:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I guess you don't want to want to play this game.

Your name is NOT Eric Martello. Eric Martello is (or was) a TV weatherman somewhere, and you are a fraud.

You pretended to be named Eric Martello at Anandtech too. But, you were banned there for trying to scam the other users by posting fake product reviews and spam links. You've also attempted these scams here and there with a few other "real name" type sounding accounts like "Larry Peters." He doesn't exist either.

Also, the business you constantly brag about is just a few websites with zero traffic or revenue. Probably why you still at home with your parents (who are also losers,) despite being in your mid 30's.

It took me like 15 minutes using only Google to find out your REAL name. Pathetic loser.


RE: This is not a bad idea!
By SlyNine on 5/28/2012 10:52:00 PM , Rating: 2
If there isn't a real Larry Peters out there some where I'll eat my shorts. lol


RE: This is not a bad idea!
By Anonymouse123 on 5/28/2012 11:15:44 PM , Rating: 2
I think you missed my point. I'm sure there are hundreds of people with that name. And obviously there is more than one person on Earth named Eric Martello. My point is that it isn't his name.


RE: This is not a bad idea!
By EricMartello on 5/31/2012 1:56:08 AM , Rating: 2
@Anonyh0m069
LOL that is some fail logic. You do a google search for my email address, no doubt thinking you are a genius for coming up with that idea, click on the first link that appears - some thread on anandtech. You then, ingeniously I might add, discover that someone did a whois search on a domain I own and posted it in said thread.

Continuing this display of god-like intelligence you google the whois information you discovered in the thread because that whois info must belong to me...then you realize that it is associated with...a...company...that... hosts my website.

Since I'm not making any money with that website I better go return all my cars, my airplane and that boat sitting in the dock behind my house. I've been living beyond my means this whole time AND with my parents no less!!!!

Bravo, I've been found out. Will the real Eric Martello please stand up? Clever use of Google.

@Reclaimer
I think that's the story he tells people at parties...but the real reason he left is that he got tired of dealing with all the idiots that post here daily. He spent time to write articles, only to be greeted with tons of inane comments or someone getting rated up to 5 for re-posting a tired-a55 meme.

They should rename this site to dailymoron because it seems like it's full of morons. I don't really post much either, mainly because of that.


RE: This is not a bad idea!
By Anonymouse123 on 5/31/2012 9:07:30 AM , Rating: 2
That's exactly the response I was waiting for.

You're name is Ilarion Bilynsky, and you own neither boats nor airplanes. There's no dock behind your house. You have no actual customers, just fake identities. You're a fraud and a crook, and remarkably unsuccessful at everything you attempt.

There's no Eric Martello. There's no Larry Peters. All these supposed customers are just you - a liar, a loser, and a troll. You've been called out everywhere you've attempted these little scams, and you make the same claims each time.

If you want to live your life as a loser, have fun with that. If you want to commit fraud (which you're doing by the way,) you'll eventually end up in jail. But don't think that the readers here believe you.

If anyone is actually following this exchange, reading through these two links should interest them.

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=11984...
http://www.audiobanter.com/archive/index.php/t-679...

I have plenty more if this continues. I'll keep posting more each time "Eric" replies.

Can you believe that was 2003, and it's 2012 already? Business has gone downhill a little bit in the last few years, hasn't it, Ilarion?


RE: This is not a bad idea!
By EricMartello on 5/31/2012 5:08:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's exactly the response I was waiting for.

You're name is Ilarion Bilynsky, and you own neither boats nor airplanes. There's no dock behind your house. You have no actual customers, just fake identities. You're a fraud and a crook, and remarkably unsuccessful at everything you attempt.


OH OK! I must be him because you've declared that I am not actually who I say I am. The entertainment value of some troll thinking he is onto me is high. Please continue... :)

quote:
There's no Eric Martello. There's no Larry Peters. All these supposed customers are just you - a liar, a loser, and a troll. You've been called out everywhere you've attempted these little scams, and you make the same claims each time.


I suppose you're going to prove your claims next with more google'd information that was just a few clicks away.

quote:
If you want to live your life as a loser, have fun with that. If you want to commit fraud (which you're doing by the way,) you'll eventually end up in jail.


Which "fraud" is it that you are referring to? Do share!

quote:
But don't think that the readers here believe you.


You're right - they should take some random guy who thinks he's a CIA mastermind for executing a few google searches and finding information that was not hidden.

quote:
If anyone is actually following this exchange, reading through these two links should interest them.

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=11984...
http://www.audiobanter.com/archive/index.php/t-679...


Well the first link is a post I made a long time ago about a review I posted getting deleted from retarded-ratings, but the second one I have no idea about and my name is not even mentioned in that posting, which appears to have been lifted off of usenet. I actually never posted anything on usenet.

About the AT post- I wrote a positive review for a company on RR and was accused of posting a fake review by scott weener. The thread you linked to only shows why AT is full of morons - who instead of looking at the issue objectively they decided to "attack" me because there is no way their beloved RR would do something like that. People believe want they want to believe, just like you believe I am not actually me. In most cases that which people choose to believe is wrong.

quote:
I have plenty more if this continues. I'll keep posting more each time "Eric" replies.


Oh yeah, keep it flowing bro!!!

On a sidenote, the behavior you are exhibiting is exactly the type of behavior that an anti-anonymity law would address.

quote:
Can you believe that was 2003, and it's 2012 already? Business has gone downhill a little bit in the last few years, hasn't it, Ilarion?


I can say that life is pretty good for me...but judging by the amount of time you have on your hands, it looks like there isn't a whole lot going on in yours.

Feel free to keep googling me because there is no doubt that reading about me is more interesting than actually being you. :D


"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins














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