It looks like more and more lawmakers have something against freedom of speech on the internet. If previous bills only managed to get users angry, now a new bill comes to spark controversy. A New York bill would ban anonymous online posting if approved.
There are in fact two bills that have the same objective. The New York State Assembly is proposing two very similar bills. In fact S.6779 and A.8688 as they appear in the official records are so alike they are in fact the same. According to the lawmakers behind them, these will secure “a person’s right to know who is behind an anonymous internet posting”.
Basically the said bill (bills) would target anonymous online posting. When such posting occurs the posts can be removed without scrutiny. If the “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”, the posts will not be removed.
If you’re thinking: “Wait, this is contradictory to my rights in the First Amendment”, you’re right. Sure, the First Amendment doesn’t talk about anonymous speech or online posting, but the Electronic Frontier Foundations have emphasized on several occasions that according to the U.S. Supreme Court “the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment”.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads that the Congress will not come up with a law that in some way abridges the freedom of speech or of the press. For some reasons, Republican lawmakers seem to be quite thrilled about the law.
From Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte’s point of view, the bills we’re talking about are a great idea. He told Wired that such law would reduce “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity”. A similar take had Senator Thomas O’Maro, also a Republican. He said that the bill against anonymous online posting would “help lend some accountability to the internet age”.
Wired notes that the two New York bills are “an attempt by lawmakers to prop up Facebook’s falling stock price via an implicit endorsement of the Facebook model of identity on the internet”.
What do you think? Anonymous online posting should be protected or the Facebook model of identity on the internet does make more sense?