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Anonymous Online Comments in New York State Targeted by Bill

Legislators propose outlawing posts by unidentified commenters on NY-based sites

Anonymous online postings are the subject of a pair of bills before the New York state legislature, according to a report in the Huffington Post.

The bill, known as the Internet Protection Act, would require New York-based web administrators to remove comments made by anonymous posters, unless the poster agreed to attach their real names.

It defines an anonymous poster as:

"… any individual who posts a message on a web site including social networks, blogs forums, message boards or any other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages."

It's long been a sore point for Internet users. While anonymity grants security to those with unpopular viewpoints, it also holds the door open for harrassment, online bullying, and derailing civil discussion through "trolling."

Patch's policy of allowing anonymous comments has given some readers the freedom to discuss sensitive subject, but it has caused some issues among posters .

State Senator Thomas O’Mara, a sponsor of the bill, was quoted in Wired as saying it would bring accountability to the Internet.

So what do you think? Is this a reasonable next step in making the Internet a safer and more civil medium of communication? Or is it an infringement of freedom of speech? Share your thoughts in the comments — anonymously, if you so choose.

Kai MacMahon May 25, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Putting the first amendment issues to one side for a moment, this is an unenforceable, ridiculous proposal that makes those proposing it look clueless. If Senator O'Mara isn't just grandstanding here, as I suspect he is, then he needs some technology lessons. Absolutely ridiculous.
Anthony May 26, 2012 at 12:13 AM
The ridiculous thing is how these politicians get paid with our tax dollars.
tim maguire May 27, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Unfortunately, your excerpt defining "anonymous" doesn't include a definition of "anonymous." Presumably, it means the person's legal name. First, this is a solution in search of a problem. All commenters have to do to stay on topic is stay on topic. No troll can force them to post about irrelevant things. Second, at no site that I frequent are trolls truly anonymous. They might not use their real name, but they have a consistent online persona that allows readers to identify them. Third, while I often discount the views of people who don't use a consistent online persona, at the one site I read (techdirt) that allows people to post as "anonymous coward," these anonymous cowards often make the best posts--both funny and insightful. Fourth, aren't there actual problems in this state where our representatives' time would be better used? And if not, then maybe we should send them home. They don't have to be in session all the time, you know.

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