NY State Senator Proposes Banning Anonymous Free Speech on the Net
May 25, 2012 6:00 PM
comment(s) - last by
All users posting to websites would have to post their real name and address, non-compliant posts would be axed
When people think anonymity,
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
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
a measure that would force users to post (and verify) their home address, IP address, and legal name in
post they make online.
That's right; New York is considering laying waste to privacy and anonymous speech in the name of "preventing"
. 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
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.
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
McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission
(1995), for Supreme Court rulings defending citizens' right to anonymous speech and printed works.
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.
NY State Senate
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: This bill would change the Net for the better
5/29/2012 10:21:20 AM
If you got something to say, stand up identify yourself
Seriously, your parents named you Beenthere?
"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
Anonymous Knocks Down Virgin Media's Site Over Pirate Bay Takedown
May 9, 2012, 11:45 AM
Anonymous Placed $700K in Fraudulent CC Charges, Left Charities With Fees
March 13, 2012, 1:00 PM
UK Man Jailed 18 Weeks for Trolling Internet Sites Dedicated to Deceased Teens
September 14, 2011, 11:33 AM
Blizzard Plans to Kill Internet Trolls By Making Forum Posters Use Real Names
July 7, 2010, 5:01 PM
Facebook CEO Called President Barack Obama to Complain About NSA Spying
March 14, 2014, 1:40 PM
Quick Note: Google Drive 100GB, 1TB Plans See Major Price Cuts
March 13, 2014, 2:45 PM
Target Missed Early Warning Signs of Holiday Data Breach
March 13, 2014, 1:45 PM
Amazon Increases Prime Subscription to $99/year Starting March 19
March 13, 2014, 8:23 AM
Bitcoin King's American Accounts Get Frozen
March 13, 2014, 3:00 AM
Time Warner Cable CEO Says Merger with Comcast is a "Dream Combination", Will Increase Innovation
March 12, 2014, 2:37 PM
Most Popular Articles
Bitcoin King Pt. II: Mt. Gox's Dictator Karpelès Proves Tragically Flawed
March 7, 2014, 1:12 PM
Hack Reveals Fallen Bitcoin CEO's Posh Tokyo Penthouse
March 10, 2014, 4:28 PM
Tesla Motors Calls New Jersey Out on New Rule Against Its Direct Sales Model
March 11, 2014, 12:01 PM
NASA Considering SpaceX "Red Dragon" for Returning Mars Samples to Earth
March 10, 2014, 2:43 PM
India Could Rock Google With Its Biggest Antitrust Fine Yet -- $5B USD
March 10, 2014, 8:12 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
Global Cyber Espionage Concerns Reveal Growing Cyber Armies
Nov 29, 2013, 11:04 AM
Is The Period Becoming an Expression of Anger?
Nov 26, 2013, 2:02 PM
NSA and Congress -- You Will Never Kill the Constitution, It's an Idea
Nov 10, 2013, 2:00 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information