New bill targets anonymous online comments

Republican legislators in New York state want to ban anonymous comments from the Internet.

Dubbed the Internet Protection Act, the controversial draft bill is supposedly an attempt to curb cyber bullying and “empower” users in online communities.

”Cyberbullying has become an epidemic in this country,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun.

“With the advancement of social media, bullies are able to attack their victims wherever and whenever they choose. Most of the time, this is done anonymously and the victim is unable to fight back at all.”

If moved forward, the proposed bill will obviously be challenged as unconstitutional and a serious violation of the First Amendment.

As Chris Weigant of The Huffington Post points out, even if local Republicans had their way and actually passed their so-called Internet Protection Act – the bill would likely be tossed out in a “New York minute” as soon as it arrived in a federal court.

“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,” wrote Weigant.

“That is not going to be taken away by any misguided modern group of politicians in Albany, New York. Whether they’ve read and understood the Constitution or not will not matter, even if this pathetic excuse of a law is actually passed. Because it won’t last that ‘New York minute’ in federal court, before it is tossed on the historical ash-heap of past attempts at such censorship – and, indeed, laughed right out of the courtroom.”

CNET’s Violet Blue expressed similar sentiments.

“[This] all seems inexplicably impractical. Which means it could simply be yet another instance of lawmakers panicking about reigning in the ‘out of control Internet’ without having any clue what they’re doing. 

“I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could be that Internet ignorant. Either way, many people are feeling like the Internet Protection Act isn’t going to protect them from being bullied online – by their own elected representatives.”