Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New Jersey Legislation Would Outlaw Anonymous Posts

A bill pending in the New Jersey legislature would make it unlawful to allow anonymous posts on a "public forum website." The bill provides:

The operator of any interactive computer service or an Internet service provider shall establish, maintain and enforce a policy to require any information content provider who posts written messages on a public forum website either to be identified by a legal name and address, or to register a legal name and address with the operator of the interactive computer service or the Internet service provider through which the information content provider gains access to the interactive computer service or Internet, as appropriate . . .

Any person who is damaged by false or defamatory written messages that originate from an information content provider who posts such messages on a public forum website may file suit in Superior Court against an operator or provider that fails to establish, maintain and enforce the policy required pursuant to [the pending legislation] and may recover compensatory and punitive damages and the cost of the suit, including a reasonable attorney's fee, cost of investigation and litigation from such operator or provider.

While we would prefer that all of our posters identify themselves, many would probably choose not to if they could not post anonymously. On the other hand, those who post anonymously tend to write the most offensively. Some bloggers don't allow anonymous posts for that very reason.


Anonymous said...

While it might prevent people from posting libelous information, such a law might have a chilling effect on whistle blowing, too.

And if I'm reading this correctly, that makes the internet service provider responsible for maintaining records of people that use their service? -- Wonder what happens with spoofing, where someone pretends to be from a domain or provider that they don't actually use.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I believe anti-spam laws has something to say about spoofing. Don't know if it would apply here or not.

Anonymous said...

A.I. said, "those who post anonymously tend to write the most offensively."

Reads hypocritical to me!

Too, I thought identifing info on all 'anonymous' posts were available to the weblogger; am I correct?