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    State of New York Proposes a Legislation to Combat Anonymous Comments
    Posted: 2012-06-19 05:22:36

    It used to be the case that the internet was the place where you could say whatever came to your mind without having the fear of being personally criticized or, worse, prosecuted. The freedom to stay anonymous was a truly lucrative feature of communicating online.

    Now, this may be no longer the case, at least in the state of New York.

    New York has proposed a bill that would prevent people from leaving anonymous comments online and force them to disclose their identities if they do not comply. Under this new proposed legislation, if someone complains about an anonymous comment, the commentator must disclose his/her real names or risk to have his/her comment removed. Putting a fake name won’t help either. According to the proposed bill, the commentators would be required to confirm their legal names, IP addresses and home addresses. However, the person making the complaint is not required to disclose his/her identity.

    The whole purpose of this legislation is to prevent cyber-bullying, anonymous political online attacks, and unjustified negative reviews of businesses.

    Though its intentions are good, it would be interesting to follow what the advocates for Freedom of Speech say about this new legislation. No doubt, it puts a stain on people’s ability to enjoy the internet and freely participate in online communities without worrying about jeopardizing their privacy. Moreover, it seems to open new room for abuse. What is there to stop someone from claiming they don’t like a particular comment without a proper reason? Isn’t that a form of cyber-bullying? What is there to stop someone from complaining about legitimate comments? Are website administrators expected to make a judgment about which comments are right and which ones are wrong?

    On the other hand, Freedom of Speech probably need not worry. Finding technological loopholes should not be too hard, especially as people today have become more internet savvy. People have always been creative in finding solutions that solve their needs. If someone really wants to stay anonymous online, the sky is the limit and no law will be able to force that person otherwise.

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