Should Anonymous Comments Be Banned?

A bill in the state Senate would force commenters to use their name when asked.

A bill in the New York State Senate could limit anonymous comments on websites.

The "Internet Protection Act" would require the web administrator of any New York-based site, including blogs, social networks, online publications and message boards, 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," upon request.

Two of the bill's sponsors, Assemb. Dean Murray and Sen. Thomas O'Mara, say the goal is to fight cyberbullying.

What do you think? Does the right to express an opinion anonymously outweigh the rights of others not to feel abused?

Please tell us in the comments. Politely, of course.

Mike Bruschini June 07, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Yes, John, with this proposed state bill and the stalled SOP Act in Congress, the American internet is being targeted by what resembles China-like efforts at state internet censorship, which forces companies like Sina Weibo to self-regulate speech.
Marc Rosen June 07, 2012 at 08:44 PM
The ways that New York can determine jurisdiction over this are as follows, based on existing case law (or so my law profs have briefly mentioned): 1) If one or more of the servers for the website are located within the State of New York 2) If the site has a significant presence in New York (if they have any employees here, deliberately advertise themselves to New Yorkers, offer any kind of goods or services to New Yorkers on a regular basis, or happen to be directly affiliated with another New York-based entity, even if they have no New York presence themselves) 3) If a New Yorker owns,operates, administrates, or is an unpaid staff person on the site (the last one is iffy, and dependent on circumstances that would take too long to explain) 4) If it can otherwise be demonstrated in a court of law that the site, in some way, is sufficiently "part of" New York that it should be subject to New York State law for reasons I haven't covered here
Eileen Coles June 08, 2012 at 02:37 AM
John your point is very valid. Government bullies and stalkers are real, and the Internet has been abused over the last decade to erode the civil liberties of the common citizen. It's one of the reasons I walked away from a very high paying job at an ISP/CLEC in 2006 - because I was being asked to set up warrantless wiretapping on my fellow citizens. During the Cold War it was constantly drilled into our heads that proof that the Soviets had an inferior ideology could be seen in the way they spied on their citizens, so this was a manifestation of hypocrisy and abuse of power that I wanted no part of. Citizens who are concerned about their civil liberties and Internet privacy should familiarize themselves with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF. Another good site is the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC. Support these two organizations if you can, as they both work hard to keep people informed about the constantly shifting field of technology and privacy. http://www.eff.org http://www.epic.org Bruce Schneier is a well known IT security expert with balanced, sane perspectives on the subject. Schneier coined the term "security theater" for procedures that don't really solve security problems but invade people's privacy, and also originated the phrase "Refuse to be terrorized." http://www.schneier.com/books.html
Robert Lee June 08, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Agreed, most comments made by users who hide their identity aren't worth reading. I know one thing though, if this policy helps remove spam, I'm all for it.
Eileen Coles June 08, 2012 at 01:57 PM
The irony is that while one part of the government is doing this, another part is doing the exact opposite: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/17/online-persona-management_n_837153.html One reason I turned my comment here on Internet privacy and security into it's own blog post is that I am growing extremely tired of this "Do as we say, not as we do", "Laws are for OTHER people" attitude coming from certain sections of our government.


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