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Thursday, May 24, 2012

New York legislators want to ban anonymous posts

In a new attempt to censor the internet, New York legislators have introduced a new bill, called the Internet Protection Act that would make it illegal to posts anonymously. The purpose of the bill was initially started to prevent cyber-bulling, but also includes attacks against businesses, and "baseless political attacks" when posted anonymously.

On GFY, Joe Obenberger from XXXLaw commented:

In Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960), the Court struck down a Los Angeles city ordinance that made it a crime to distribute anonymous pamphlets. In McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334 (1995), the Court struck down an Ohio statute that made it a crime to distribute anonymous campaign literature.

The Federalist Papers, which laid down the political/philosophical foundation for the Constitution, and are frequently cited by the Supreme Court to interpret it, written actually by Madison and others, were written and published anonymously. It's through this important legal lens that the Supreme Court looks at the protection of anonymous speech.

I'll declare this one dead on arrival in any Federal Court with a petition for an emergency Temporary Restraining Order.

According to an article on Betabeat, the lawmakers who introduced and sponsored the censorship act, Dean Murray and Jim Conte were surprised about the amount of negative calls they got in response to their totalitarian actions.

BusinessInsider asked an interesting question:

Why would New York Republicans favor something that is similar to China laws designed, in part, to control online content?

In a response to Mashable, Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said:

The law is clearly unconstitutional. The right to speak anonymously is part of the First Amendment and has been since the founding of this country.