A new bill proposed in the Illinois State Senate looks to completely wipe out any form of anonymity on the internet by requiring that the operators of basically any website on the entire internet take down any comment that isn’t attached to an IP, address, and real name-verified poster.
Here’s the summary of the bill:
Creates the Internet Posting Removal Act. Provides that a web site administrator shall, upon request, remove any posted comments posted 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. Effective 90 days after becoming law.
Not wanting to leave any bases uncovered, Silverstein includes that an “Anonymous Poster” means “any individual who posts a message on a web site including social networks, blogs, forums, message boards, or any other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.”
Silverstein also proposes that “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.”
Beyond the obvious questions about self-verification of IP addresses (?) and home addresses (wat?), the logistics of this thing are mind-boggling at best. Any comment on any site that has commenting? And we haven’t even talked about the constitutionality angle.
When people who have no idea how the internet actually works start drafting laws, this is what happens. This isn’t the first, nor the last bill of this type that will hit state legislatures. More than likely, this bill will never make it out of committee (it’s been referred to assignments). But the simple knowledge that this kind of thing could even exist is enough to make you need a drink.