In Illinois, state senator Ira Silverstein (D) has put forth a bill that would require anonymous commenters online to reveal their identity if they want their comments to remain online. The Daily Caller reports
A recently introduced bill in the Illinois state Senate would require anonymous website comment posters to reveal their identities if they want to keep their comments online.
The bill, called the Internet Posting Removal Act, is sponsored by Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein. It states that a “web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless the 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.”
Anonymity online has been a foundational principle from the get-go but has come under attack from time to time. On a personal note (and I realize that I run counter to most Internet types with this opinion) I think that while anonymity may be something to be protected it sometimes ends up doing more harm than good. To me it’s simple, if you don’t have the stones to attach your name to your comments then why should anyone care what you think? Also, the online equivalent of ‘beer muscles’ or ‘liquid courage’ is amplified when someone can hide in plain sight and say whatever inflammatory remarks they want to simply tick people off and create dissension.
Having said that the ‘right’ of online anonymity has been protected more often than not.
Pseudonymous and anonymous comments have long been a critical part of U.S. public discourse, though, and the bill may be on shaky legal ground.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) noted on its website that the “right to anonymous speech is also protected well beyond the printed page.”
“Thus in 2002 the Supreme Court struck down a law requiring proselytizers to register their true names with the mayor’s office before going door-to-door,” wrote EFF, noting that the Supreme Court protects Internet commentary as it does pamphleteering.
There is more to consider here like the passage of such a law in Arizona in 2012 (which had to be modified to get through) but the concern for marketers should simply be how rules like this could shape discourse online and thus impact messaging in the online space.
Where do you stand on online anonymity as it relates to comments on a site? For it? Against it? See both sides of it? Let us know either with your real name or not in the comments here. You’re safe for now, either way.