260. Anonymous posting and Cyberstalking made illegal?

Monday, January 09, 2006

I just saw this post at The Blog Herald. It states the following:

US President George W Bush ratified a new law last Thursday that makes it illegal for people in the United States to post anything to a blog that could be deemed “annoying” anonymously.

The law, which was buried in the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act, titled “Preventing Cyberstalking” rewrites existing telephone harassment law to prohibit anyone from using the Internet “without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy.”
Now in essence it would block comment spammers, and Internet harassment. If you have something mean to say to someone, you have to stand behind your words with an identity. No hiding behind some kind of anonimity. I've received a few not so please anonymous comments on here, but I see the real problems with this happening on the more enclosed in journaling sites where you have friends lists and communities that form. Bashing people while hiding behind some kind of anon comment seems cool and the in thing to do on some of these sites, and I've seen it happen before. I've had it happen to me and my friends.

I've never really understood the whole concept behind bashing someone while not using your identity. If you have something to say, good or bad, use your name. Perhaps this new law will help change things. It might also help ease the loads of comment spam here in the blogosphere because these comments will also be made illegal. The trick here is - how will the authorities find out who to prosecute if it goes that far? The comment is - anonymous. HMM - good question.


“I've never really understood the whole concept behind bashing someone while not using your identity.”

Sad to say, but I guess there will always be cowardly people who thrive on bullying, whether they’re gathered in packs and the bashing is done in person, or they’re alone and cloaked in the relative safety of anonymity.

Hope you’re feeling a lot better soon, Gina!

Mark Pettus said...

As writers, we should be afraid of this law. I hope the courts toss it where it belongs the first time someone is brought in front of a judge based on this little bit of totalitarianism.

Free speech caries with it the implied right to anonymity. Surrender those protections at your own peril. What about a writer, using an assumed name who posts something that annoys a government official? Is the writer's speech protected, or is the writer guilty of being criminally annoying? Who defines annoying?

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