Last night, when I was swatting at a mosquito, I thought to myself, “I should probably run to the hardware store to get a blowtorch, because that would be the best and most efficient way to kill this here mosquito, and also while I’m at it, I might be able to use it to fix the leaky faucet.” This approach to killing a mosquito and solving other unrelated problems is similar to the way New York Assemblyman Jim Conte, a Republican (DUH) from Long Island, is taking on the important issue of people saying mean things to children, businesses, and elected officials under the cover of anonymity on the Internet: through taking a blow torch to the whole Constitution. Because why NOT make it illegal for YOU to say stupid shit under a fake name, especially given that HE’s so willing to say stupid shit under his real name and all?
Earlier this month, I joined several of my legislative colleagues to promote the Internet Protection Act (A.8688/S.6779)… Too often, online bullies hide behind their anonymity as they inflict pain. My legislation turns the spotlight on cyber-bullies by forcing them to reveal their identity or have their post removed. Once a bully is identified, steps can be taken to end the harassment. Bullying is no laughing matter.
Hear that, anonymous Website posters? Because Jim Conte is going to PROTECT THE WHOLE INTERNET from you, using these easy-to-follow steps:
A WEB SITE ADMINISTRATOR UPON REQUEST SHALL REMOVE ANY COMMENTS POSTED ON HIS OR HER WEB SITE BY AN ANONYMOUS POSTER UNLESS SUCH 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. ALL WEB SITE ADMINISTRATORS SHALL HAVE A CONTACT NUMBER OR E-MAIL ADDRESS POSTED FOR SUCH REMOVAL REQUESTS, CLEARLY VISIBLE IN ANY SECTIONS WHERE COMMENTS ARE POSTED.
But it’s worth it because of the seriousness of bullying, and also, the equally important concern about anonymous people saying mean things about businesses, because this is a related problem that happens with great frequency:
Too often, online bullies hide behind their anonymity as they inflict pain. My legislation turns the spotlight on cyber-bullies by forcing them to reveal their identity or have their post removed. In addition to cracking down on cyber-bullying, the bill also prevents people from posting anonymous criticism of local businesses. Too often, rival businesses will post negative and false posts to hurt their competition. With more and more people turning to online reviews, it is important to ensure that the posted information, good or bad, is from actual customers and not rival competitors.
Too often, Jim Conte uses unsourced claims as the basis of his legislative agenda. Too often, businesses are attacked by the same people who bully children. Too often, a lawmaker who has no idea how the Internet works proposes legislation that does things like define the Internet thusly: (C) “INTERNET” MEANS THE GLOBAL SYSTEM OF INTERCONNECTED COMPUTER NETWORKS THAT USE THE INTERNET PROTOCOL. Take a breather think about “the internet protocol,” and then, after you’ve spent a few minutes on that, ask yourself, what do businesses, helpless schoolchildren, and elected officials have in common? And how can we censor free expression to in service of their related interests? And might New York Assemblyman Jim Conte have some skin in this game?
Finally, the legislation will help cut down on the types of mean-spirited and baseless political attacks that add nothing to the real debate and merely seek to falsely tarnish the opponent’s reputation by using the anonymity of the Web. By removing these posts, this bill will help to ensure that there is more accurate information available to voters on their prospective candidates, giving them a better assessment of the candidates they have to choose from. With more and more people relying on social media and the Internet to communicate and gather information, it is imperative that the legislature put into place some type of safeguard to prevent people from using the Internet’s cloak of anonymity to bully our children and make false accusations against local businesses and elected officials.
Yes because Fox News has the monopoly on baseless attacks on elected officials, not Internet commenters, DUH. And our Founders would never, ever, have stooped to anonymous commenting either, no sir.