NY Bill Proposes New Rules for Anonymous Commenting

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See above a screenshot from the Senate bill. (Credit: Assembly.state.ny, screenshot)

A proposed New York state bill would ban anonymous commenting on the Internet, WIRED reported.

The bill, titled the Internet Protection Act, is proposed by Sen. Thomas O’Mara and Dean Murray, and Peter Lopez and Jim Conte,  according to Legislative Gazette, would also serve to counter cyber-bullying.

According to New York Magazine,

“Identical bills in both houses of the New York State Legislature would require all New York–based websites 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.'”

WIRED arguedthat the bill probably can’t get passed because it would violate the First Amendment’s free speech protection.

According to New York Magazine, the bill calls for regulation of comments, as well, by requiring websites to either delete comments prompting complaints or “identify themselves within 48 hours.”

The bill’s co-sponsor, Dean Murray, is quoted as telling Legislative Gazette, “This bill will offer them the opportunity to either confront the person making these comments by having that person identified or have the comment removed all together in the case where this comment is false and slanderous.”

Murray likened the identification of commenters to the information newspapers require to publish a “letters to the editor,” according to Legislative Gazette, and indicated an interest in making the New York bill national.

CNET reported, however, that “Since most Web sites don’t have the resources or time to police comments in such an overreaching manner, the Internet Protection Act, if passed, will most likely result in the mass deletion of comments for any reason — or none at all.”

We wrote earlier this year when Indiana’s Court of Appeals ruled that a libel plaintiff couldn’t get a newspaper to provide the identifying information about anonymous commenters unless the plaintiff could prove the comments were false and identify “the exact statements” that are in question, among other conditions.

We wrote in 2010 when New York Post writer Annie Karni argued that anonymous commenting online could end soon based on lawsuits against commenters.

Hat Tip: Nieman Lab and @DahliaLithwick

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NY Bill Proposes New Rules for Anonymous Commenting

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