Two New York lawmakers are looking to ban anonymous comments from the Internet forever, officially changing the Internet multi-persona “Anonymous” into something else entirely – “Outlaw”.
According to Wired, the proposed legislation in both chambers would require websites based in New York (public online news websites and even simple, personal blogs) 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.”
“This statute would essentially destroy the ability to speak anonymously online on sites in New York,” said Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Center for Democracy and Technology. He added that the legislation gives a “heckler’s veto to anybody who disagrees with or doesn’t like what an anonymous poster said.” Of course, the Internet is already in an uproar, with Above the Law opining, “I’m not even mad. I’m just impressed that a group of state legislators managed to draft this with a straight face,” and posting this rather funny picture:
Like most proposed laws that completely ignore the First Amendment, this legislation was born of good intentions. Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte says it’s meant to cut down on “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.” But what is the old saying? The road to hell is paved with good intentions? And as we’ve learned time and time again, when you try to mess with the First Amendment, that’s exactly what you get – hell. Arbitrary hell.
Thus far, there hasn’t been any voting on the legislation, and honestly? It doesn’t stand a chance.
Commentary: Take a look at that picture. That statement is the religious creed of the Internet. It’s a sacred text. It allows me to do what I’m doing here, and you to write horrible things about it underneath.
It’s why, despite lawmakers’ “good intentions”, this kind of legislation never gets anywhere. The First Amendment isn’t frosting on top of the milkshake that is Internet culture. It’s the very foundation, and without it, the Internet would cease to exist as we know it.
So buck up, Internet. Let’s have a laugh at the silly lawmakers together.
By the way, Mr. Conte, if anything I said in this article falls under “baseless political attacks,” you can quote me on it. My name is Dusten Carlson.