Lawmakers in New York State are proposing a bill that would ban anonymous online speech. If a similar law was passed in Canada, it would mean a drastic change of how we allow anonymous feedback from our readers.
Online commenters aren't exactly known for their kind words, but lawmakers in New York want to hold their constituents to a higher standard. A few Empire State lawmakers want to address that problem by doing away with anonymous commenting.
Identical bills in the senate and assembly require anonymous posts to be deleted by administrators of New York-based websites, including "social networks, blog forums, message boards, or any other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages."
The proposal has the tech and legal communities reeling -- if not outright giggling.
"This statute would essentially destroy the ability to speak anonymously online on sites in New York," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney with the Center for Democracy and Technology. He added that the legislation provides a "heckler's veto to anybody who disagrees with or doesn't like what an anonymous poster said."
Sen. Thomas O'Mara, a Republican who is also sponsoring the measure, said it would "help lend some accountability to the internet age."
A cynic, however, might see 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.
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