Anonymous Online Speech: Soon To Be Banned by Albany?


The Voice’s Steven Thrasher just brought this to our attention.

Legislation is pending in Albany that would make illegal anonymous online commenting, City & State tweeted this morning.

Looks like Wired was among the first to report on the measure.

The bill’s backers, according to the mag, want to curtail “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.”

The legislation would make New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, “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.”

The measures would also apply to messages on social networks and message boards or “any other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages,” Wired points out, and requires that sites offer “a contact number or e-mail address posted for ‘such removal requests, clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted.'”

There’s no ID requirement, however, for people who want the anonymous content removed.

The Voice contacted the offices Dean Murray and Thomas F. O’Mara, who sponsored the bills in the Assembly and state Senate, respectively. We wanted to see what’s up.

We’re also reaching out to a First Amendment expert for some clarification. Obvs, this seems more than a bit legally iffy, considering that the U.S. Constitution seems to protect free speech.

We’ll update if we hear back.