"Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority." >>
When I first saw this story, I thought it was going to be Tim Couch the former #1 QB draft pick flunky of the new Cleveland Browns. Both have ties to Hyden, KY.
Mar 5, 2008 story :
If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.Representative Couch says he filed the bill in hopes of cutting down on online bullying. He says that has especially been a problem in his Eastern Kentucky district.
Mar 5, 2008 blog posting :
"Some nasty things have been said about high school kids in my district, usually by other kids," Couch said. "The adults get in on it, too." Couch said he, too, has been the subject of anonymous online roasting, and while he doesn't enjoy it, he doesn't think there's much the legislature can do about it."I think right now (online posting) is pretty much just on its own. It's a machine that's going to go its own way," Couch said. "The state can try to pass some rules, but I don't really think it would do anything."
So it's not even a serious bill by Couch.
More commentary found via Google blog search results.
Internet Civility Bill
The idea of government legislating against anonymous Internet postings has been tried before.
March 15, 2006 Toledo Talk posting titled Internet civility bill stalled :
Govt. Controlling the Internet
Recent Toledo Talk threads about attempts by dimwitted politicians to control the Internet. Republicans are definitely leading the way on this.
- Chat rooms could face expulsion
- No more Party Poker
- Net Neutrality
- Another feel good, do nothing law
- House passes Internet nanny-state bill
TFP Miller Column
My thoughts from that February 2007 thread :
About anonymous postings, I think it's simple. It's a matter of choice and freedom, and the responsibility belongs to the reader and not the poster. If you don't like anonymous postings, then you have the freedom of choice to ignore such postings. You have the freedom to move on. If user A wants to post his or her real name, place of employment, job title, shoe size, etc., that's user A's business.
If you manage a Web site, and you don't like anonymous postings, then, obviously, it's your responsibility to correct the problem. Implement strict guidelines. Erect tough barriers to posting. Make use of the anti-anonymous-posting features in the software. If no such features exist, get a different software application.
Maybe by posting anonymously, we get additional info that otherwise we would not have gotten. It's up to the reader to decide what to do with that info. Do you trust every thing you read in a newspaper or see on TV or hear on the radio? When you read [a newspaper] op-ed with no name attached, what's up with that? How do you know which person wrote what op-ed?
Those of you opposed to anonymous posters need to get over it. It's not going to change, unless the Republicans get their way. If you want to reveal your real name, goody gumdrops for you. But quit forcing your beliefs on the rest of us.
Maybe over time as people get more comfortable with posting on the Web, users will share their real identities. But let that happen naturally. Don't force the issue.
And you can't be selective with your viewpoint on anonymous posters. You can't say, "Well, it's fine for that person to remain anonymous because she's nice, but that mean person needs to reveal his real name."
What's the definition of "nice or "mean" or "offensive?" What's offensive to one person may be hilarious to me. Why is it that the person who is offended gets his or her way over the person who finds the rhetoric funny?
I like the rawness of the Web message boards, warts and all. I would prefer to tolerate a few [rogue] posters than be shackled with anti-freedom regulations, requiring users to give personal information, which would deter people from sharing their opinions.
If a site owner wants to require a user to give a Social Security number and a credit card number before posting, that's the site owner's choice. I require a valid e-mail address in order to create an account to post here. Some don't like giving their e-mail address, so they won't sign up. Fine. I require a valid e-mail address for sending a confirmation e-mail to the user in order to activate the account. This is done to reduce spammers and drive-by posters.
Multiple of times here, I've recommended reading the following, concerning digital communities:
- the book Design for Community
- the Web essay Building Communities with Software
- and most importantly, if you have any interest at all in digital communities, read this 1997 Wired article The Epic Saga of The Well. Shenanigans in digital communities have been occurring for a long time.
I don't understand the fetish some have with wanting Web posters to post under their real names. I'm more interested in their writing, not their names. On a message board, I can learn more about people from their opinions and likes and dislikes than their real names.