New York State will outlaw Anonymous Posts on the Web!
New York state lawmakers are proposing to effectively end the 1st Amendment for the sake of stopping cyber bullying and what they refer to as “baseless political attacks”.
New York State Assembly bill S06779 will require websites based in New York 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.”
Jim Corte, member of the Assembly of the 10th District in New York, is promoting that Internet Protection Act (A.8688/S.6779). Assemblyman Dean Murray and Sen. Thomas O’Mara, R-Big Flats are also sponsoring the legislation.
Corte asserts that his “legislation turns the spotlight on cyber-bullies by forcing them to reveal their identity or have their post removed”.
Within the proposal are preventive measures to keep “people from posting anonymous criticism of local businesses”. Businesses would be allowed to judge online reviews that place them in a negative light as disruptive to their financial ability and therefore be empowered to have those postings removed from websites under the guise of “rival competitors”.
The proposal also includes language combating mean-spirited political attacks that “add nothing to the real debate and merely seek to falsely tarnish the opponent’s reputation by using the anonymity of the Web”.
This over-reaching proposition will “ensure that there is more accurate information available to voters on their prospective candidates”.
“While the Internet is a wonderful resource for social networking, sadly it can also be used to anonymously bring harm to others,” said Assemblyman Dean Murray, R-East Patchogue. “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 or slanderous.”
The website must provide a toll-free number or email address where “victims” of alleged cyber bullying can contact the webmaster to have the comments removed. No judge or jury is necessary. Simply the victim’s accusation is enough to have any comment removed for supposed offences. In the event a complaint is filed, the webmaster will be mandated to contact the anonymous commenter, who is given a mere 48 hours to identify themselves as the author of the post or else the comment will be deleted.
“The internet has been a great innovation for our time, it’s brought forth a lot of advantages, but with that, there are abuses that come with it,” said O’Mara. “This will help lend some accountability to the internet age.”
However, the measures taken to legitimize positive from defacing comments regarding cyber-bullying, online business reviews and political attacks are not defined.
Only the power to change the content of the Web and force users to use their real identities is mentioned.
Murray would like to see the legislation be picked up nationally. He hopes this proposal will turn into a federal bill that will mandate the internet’s content across the US.
“There’s got to be a starting point,” said Murray. “If we don’t start somewhere, it’s not going to spread. A lot of times New York does lead the way for the nation.”
Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Scoharie, co-sponsor of the bill, believes that the internet is a kind of ‘wild west” where “anything goes”. Lopez hopes that this remanding bill will curtail the internet to make it a “beneficial [resource] and make sure it is used properly”.
Who decides if the internet is being used properly?