Blog Building 101

How to make a blog network

Friday, May 25, 2012

Online privacy once again under attack

This time, the attack on privacy and free speech comes from the New York state Senate floor, where is bill is aiming to cut down on cyberbullying, protect small businesses (yeah right), and protect politicians from anonymous attacks during campaign season.

This amendment would, were it approved (which it won't be, so don't worry), require New York-based websites to remove comments posted by anonymous users, unless said users agree to attach their names to said comments.

And this isn't some wishy-washy Google+ "real name" nonsense, either -- you can't just offer up a real-sounding name to attach to your comment and be done with it. According to the text of the bill, the anonymous poster must agree to attach his or her name to the post and "confirm that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate".

As Chris Weigant of The Huffington Post points out:

Speaking out on politics in whatever technological medium exists - and remaining anonymous while doing so - is not just one of the foundational rights our government was built on, it was actually largely responsible for our nation and our government even existing.

Violet Blue from CNET points out the practical problems:

That's right: if someone doesn't like your comment the Web site will be legally bound to make you reveal your identity. The accused commenter will also be required to verify that his or her "IP address, legal name and home address are accurate."

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.
The identity of those complaining will not need to be verified as "real."