New York Bill May Ban Anonymous Online Speech

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by dw426, May 23, 2012.

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  1. dw426

    dw426 Registered Member

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    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/05/anonymous-online-speech-ban/

    "Proposed legislation in both chambers would require New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, 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.”

    Contrary to what some may think, the first amendment does not explicitly protect against this bill, as there is no mention of anonymity. I don't see such measures being acceptable to the courts at this time, but the bill is far from impossible to enact.
     
  2. Hungry Man

    Hungry Man Registered Member

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    The first amendment permits the exercise of free speech. It's not free if we restrict it.

    Free speech is already a misnomer at this point though.
     
  3. dw426

    dw426 Registered Member

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    There are already several restrictions and limits put in place by the Supreme Court. But yeah, you're right, the amendment is completely misunderstood and interpreted wrong most of the time, even by the courts. It was never meant as a free-for-all or to used as an excuse to say anything you pleased about anything to anyone. But, that's the modern interpretation of it (except for the imposed limits spoken of) and there's no way of going back now.
     
  4. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    The proposed bill linked to in that article is http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=S06779&term=2011&Text=Y. I don't know if the proposed section to be added to civil rights law would in some way be muted by the existing civil rights law, but the section to be added looks incredibly bad to me. It appears to apply to any and all "web sites", regardless of the content that is posted, and even ones operated on private networks. It basically boils down to:

    A WEB SITE ADMINISTRATOR UPON REQUEST SHALL REMOVE ANY COMMENTS POSTED ON HIS OR HER WEB SITE BY AN ANONYMOUS POSTER UNLESS SUCH 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.

    and thus would appear to require disclosure of not just legal name but also home address. It also appears designed to prohibit the obfuscation of IP Address.

    IANAL, but it is my understanding that there have been various court cases (including SCOTUS) which established that the first amendment *does* protect *anonymous* free speech. However, as this demonstrates, there will probably always be those who who endeavor to change things and citizens must remain ready and willing to do battle with those enemies.

    Late Edit: This issue has bubbled up to a bunch of other sites and reading the articles, quotes, etc there has made me wish to add the following. I've seen comments from supporters of this bill which state that it is meant to: 1) combat cyber bullying, 2) combat mean-spirited and baseless political attacks, 3) combat anonymous criticism of local businesses, which is sometimes carried out by competitors. One or more of those things is likely to seem reasonable to listeners/readers. However, again, if you actually look at what they are proposing (and it seems one sponsor hopes this will spread to become nationwide law) there are no such qualifiers. In fact, the sentence at the front of the bill summarizes the goal: "AN ACT to amend the civil rights law, in relation to protecting a person's right to know who is behind an anonymous internet posting". That means *ANY* posting of *ANY* kind, and again if you look at the proposed text, it even includes postings on entirely private networks/servers. I've often heard it said that the most egregious laws are usually presented as a means to protect you from something because people are far more likely to support or at least not fight against something that they are, or can be made made, fearful of.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  5. PaulyDefran

    PaulyDefran Registered Member

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    Out of all the things that can possibly be said, the USSC has allowed to stand, laws that limited speech in only a few instances. You can even advocate violence, as long as there is no imminent intent (Brandenburg v. Ohio). The Bill of Rights is a check on government abuse, on things they absolutely can not touch...and the USSC is there to interpret, when they try. It is not a list of the only things a free society can do. The BoR exists because of the *Anti*-Federalists... they weren't big fans of government. Imagine trying to explain "Free Speech Zones" to Patrick Henry. I take Hungry Man's statement to mean that free speech has been trampled on for a while, and our citizens just keep letting it happen. I forsee this law either failing miserably, or going before the USSC.

    PD
     
  6. dw426

    dw426 Registered Member

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    Free speech has been trampled on, for years now. But it still is interpreted wrongly by most people. Either way, no, I don't see this bill standing up for now, but not because it's unconstitutional. Well, it may fail and the word unconstitutional may be used as an excuse, like many wrong court decisions. But the bill most certainly is not truly unconstitutional.

    The bill still allows freedom of speech, so that argument is out the window really. It just doesn't allow for saying something completely anonymously. I sound like I'm for the bill, I'm completely against it. I'm simply saying that the first amendment doesn't necessarily apply here.
     
  7. hawki

    hawki Registered Member

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    "The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A much-cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads:

    'Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.'"

    https://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity
     
  8. dw426

    dw426 Registered Member

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    And that is probably the exact ruling that will be used to shut this bill down. It doesn't make anonymity appear magically in the Constitution, however. Again, this bill is nothing but trouble once you think deeper about it, but not unconstitutional. Honestly it doesn't matter how the bill gets tossed, as long as it gets tossed.
     
  9. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    Seems to me it is saying that "a law abridging anonymous speech" is an instance of "a law abridging the freedom of speech". Put another way, it seems to be saying that "anonymous speech" simply doesn't have to explicitly appear in the First Amendment because it is implicitly and effectively already in there :)
     
  10. dw426

    dw426 Registered Member

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    Well, I've said my peace on it, and like the rest of the participants in the thread, I hope the bill gets tossed in a fireplace :)
     
  11. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    I think the backers of the bills are as much of a threat as the bills themselves. So I hope the good people of New York work to both oppose the bills *and* permanently remove the backers from political office.

    New York Senate Version:
    http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?de...011&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Votes=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y
    SPONSOR: O'MARA
    COSPNSR: <blank>
    MLTSPNSR: <blank>

    New York Assembly Version:
    http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?de...011&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Votes=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y
    SPONSOR: Murray (MS)
    COSPNSR: Boyle, Graf, Montesano, Tenney, Conte, Lopez P, Duprey, Johns, Finch, Calhoun, Curran, Corwin, Saladino, McDonough, Hanna, Rabbitt, Ra, Jordan, Losquadro, Fitzpatrick, Palmesano
    MLTSPNSR: Ceretto, Crouch, Latimer, Thiele, Weisenberg

    Oh, and to any parents out there who are concerned about cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying, corporations profiling and targeting your children, and/or the like... please also teach your children how to maximize their anonymity on the net. When you go around using your real name, using well-known nicknames/pseudonyms, using the same name/nicks at multiple websites and forums, etc you make yourself MORE vulnerable.
     
  12. PaulyDefran

    PaulyDefran Registered Member

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    We're all agreed on this, so that is good :D We just differ in our interpretations. In the spirit of the times when the Constitution was undergoing ratification, *anonymous* speech was heavily used and relied upon. The Anti-Federalist Papers were written by such notable (lol) people like:

    Cato
    Brutus
    and the Federal Farmer

    This bill goes against the spirit of what this country was founded on, IMO. Others opinions are just as valid.

    PD
     
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