There are pros and cons to anonymity on the internet. The ability to write or publish content on the web without being known or identified by name can be a good thing; it can protect an author from persecution, especially if the content is controversial or taboo. However, the ability to post anonymously on the internet has also opened the door to bad things like cyber-bullying, harassment, and the destruction of one’s reputation. This is why many people have had to invest in reputation management services.
Whether you believe anonymity on the web is a good or bad thing, there is something alarming about a new bill introduced in the New York State Senate by Sen. Thomas F. O’Mara, S6779.
If passed, S6779 would make it legal for webmasters to remove anonymous posts on the internet if the poster refuses to provide the website with their legal name, IP address, and home address. Opponents of the bill argue that the bill goes against the First Amendment. Critics also agree that the bill would be extremely dangerous if passed. For example, providing your home address could lead to life-threatening situations. Even if the bill is not passed, many believe that it will probably result in the elimination of the comment system since it has always been a burden on both the user and the web site administrator.