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Censorship United States

Illinois Politician Wants a Kill Switch For Anonymous Speech Online 522

Posted by timothy
from the well-you-did-say-jehovah dept.
New submitter OhSoLaMeow writes with a story at The Daily Caller with unpleasant news from the Illinois state Senate, where a state senator has introduced a bill that "would require anonymous website comment posters to reveal their identities if they want to keep their comments online." From the article (warning — obnoxious ads with sound): "The bill, called the Internet Posting Removal Act, is sponsored by Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein. It states that a 'web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site 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.'"
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Illinois Politician Wants a Kill Switch For Anonymous Speech Online

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  • Death of Slashdot? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Talderas (1212466) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:25PM (#42972299)

    Hardly. Unless your servers are located in Illinois the bill is meaningless.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:30PM (#42972363)

    That politician's mouth is in Illinois. Can we get a kill switch for attention-seeking asshats who want to take away our rights?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:31PM (#42972369)

    (cough)Democrat(Cough)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:32PM (#42972405)

    Both sides do this equally. It is just a matter of who is paying the bills today.

  • Re:WTF... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichMan (8097) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:34PM (#42972425)

    > betrayal of your constituents like this

    In the 21'st century a politicians constituents are the various lobby interests that give him money to run the campaigns that get them elected. "citizens" don't come into the picture except as demographics to be manipulated by the advertising campaign.

    I suspect this bill was advanced directly in the interests of one of the senators "constituents".

  • by icebike (68054) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:34PM (#42972435)

    Hardly. Unless your servers are located in Illinois the bill is meaningless.

    EVEN if the servers are located in Illinois this law would be unconstitutional. Its unconstitutional even under the State Constitution.
    It goes nowhere, and if it succeeds in getting passed, it gets bitchslapped by the courts.

  • by Rougement (975188) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:43PM (#42972559)
    If they have nothing to do except introduce bullshit bills, we should stop paying them and send them home. We could use the money to hire better teachers, fix up a crumbling bridge or something.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:43PM (#42972563) Journal

    doesn't mean freedom of anonymity...

    I don't understand why people think that anonymity is or should be an unquestionably protected given.

    While I disagree with this politician's proposal, I feel like we should make it clear that not all speech should be behind an anonymous veil. It's difficult to explore and draw the line but, for instance, if you call in a bomb threat or threaten someone's life over the phone and they use the appropriate means to track you down, I don't think you should be able to say that your speech should be anonymous and by removing the anonymity you're a treasonous free speech hater. However, if I want to criticize my leaders you shouldn't be able to trace whatever communications I use to do so in order to identify me. And I think we have court systems and warrants and wiretapping laws in place (or rather we should) that make this a process that does not become abused. When your words have a large amount of weight, they shouldn't be anonymous -- I think that testifying against someone is a great example of this. Can I anonymously swear to tell the truth and call you a pedophile and will you demand that be entered into the record in a court of law?

    Another recent example I can think of that annoys me is when your "anonymous free speech" is equated to hundreds of millions of dollars [slashdot.org] or campaign donations. At that point we're talking about sums that can positively or negatively affect many lives and when it hits a certain point it should simply be published. This would reduce some of the legalized bribery in this country that is parading around as "free speech."

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    It doesn't actually say anything about anonymity although I understand how forcing identification could amount to fear of response and future duress. So at that point you need to involve a judge in the process of determining whether identification is needed without violating the first amendment.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:44PM (#42972587)
    How gutless would /. have to be to let that happen? Far better would be to proactively cut off all Illinois users from /. and instead give a message crediting Ira Silverstein with plenty of contact information. Let the citizens of Illinois thank Silverstein for his protection if they feel that is appropriate, or have them let him know that they are not pleased. Do this before the bill is voted on, so that the Illinois users can have an impact on the way the bill goes.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:44PM (#42972591)

    Not necessarily; it'll only get "bitchslapped" if the courts do their jobs properly. Lots of stuff is unconstitutional (whether by a state constitution or the US Constitution) and is still enforced; the 4th Amendment in particular has been null and void for a long time (if you don't believe me, try carrying $100K in cash around and get yourself searched by the cops, or even just go through airport security with it).

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:01PM (#42972841)

    Inconvenient Party affiliation omitted, twice in one day.

    Back here [slashdot.org] we have a Democrat state senator Toni Harp [ct.gov] from Connecticut trying to "Ban Kids From Using Arcade Guns." Now we have Democrat state senator Ira Silverstein [ilga.gov] of Illinois with another statist gem.

    Could we please stop this game? When we're raging [slashdot.org] about Republicans there is no hesitation qualifying names with parties. I know it's inconvenient that all bad government isn't the fault of fundies, but pretending statists aren't a problem isn't helpful behavior.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:08PM (#42972937)

    Illinois politicians are about as far left and as corrupt (not suggesting the two are related) as it gets in the US. Nobody that lives here could be at-all surprised by this.

  • Meaningless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:11PM (#42972959)

    Already, Facebook and Google+ forbid anonymous postings. Facebook's comment system is used all over the web, so you can't post anonymously anywhere it is found -- you can, of course, violate their terms of service and use a *false* ID, but in that case, again, you can lose your voice and your posts at any time. For that matter, if you're not a Facebook member, you can't post at all on a Facebook comment system, either within Facebook or used externally.

    You're looking in the wrong place for the real threat. The government isn't (really) looking to curb anonymous speech, just this one asshat in Illinois; and his stupid little idea isn't going anywhere.

    Commercial interests, however, have a huge stake in making sure they know who you are, and are well into the process of making it standard. even here on slashdot, we have numerous naive koolaid drinkers who will blithely tell you that anonymous speech is a bad thing.

    Slashdot itself starts anonymous speech at a lower value than speech with an ID, a slight, but not subtle, nudge to get you to provide your information to the world. Basically for anyone who utilizes the mod system here, anonymous speech is by default invisible. No, you can't count on the mods to fix all the cases that need fixing, either -- not enough mods or modpoints.

    Seriously people... you're fighting the wrong fight. 1, support anonymous speech, and 2, don't feed the trolls. Get off Facebook and Google+ until or unless they come around. Or else swallow and don't spit when they don't let you post anonymously.

  • by gaudior (113467) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:11PM (#42972967) Homepage
    As a life-long citizen of Illinois, I've reached the point of saturation with the asshattery that goes on in Springfield and the true ruling city of the state, Chicago. This kind of thing simply doesn't register any attention anymore. We are numb, beaten into submission.
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:12PM (#42972969)

    No, there's a grand mixture of fools and thieves from both parties, governors, senators, mayors, lots of convictions. Not far left. Big mixture there.

  • by jimh69 (2845587) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:18PM (#42973055)
    We have one. It's called an election. Sadly it has been broken for some time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:34PM (#42973241)

    That just isn't the way it is anymore. The modern Left is about increasing the "rights" of economic & social collectives versus eliminating the rights of individuals. It's the basis for their entire political movement of the last 15+ years. (If not much longer) You have more political say with the Left if you are willing to lump yourself into a mob - zero say if you insist as standing as an individual. Thus, anonymous speech (the anonymous are much more like to dissent from the mob) is a threat to their ideals of collectivism.

  • Re:Cash seizures (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:38PM (#42973287) Homepage

    Most money has traces of drugs on it. If someone has a big stack of bills, and they are a not freshly printed a dog is basically guaranteed to find some trace of drugs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:42PM (#42973345)

    Interestingly, the liberal left of late seems to produce the most intrusive ideas. In their zeal to produce an egalitarian society they ignore the fact that a completely homogeneous society goes nowhere fast. You need differences in people, privacy to develop those differences and the opportunity to create benefits from those differences. A totally egalitarian society would have no drive to improve itself since everyone is already getting all the benefits available.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:53PM (#42973471)

    Yes, but Democrats aren't far-left. They're a center-right pro-big-business party.

    They only appear to be far-left to far-right extremists.

  • Re:Meaningless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nabsltd (1313397) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:54PM (#42973493)

    Slashdot itself starts anonymous speech at a lower value than speech with an ID, a slight, but not subtle, nudge to get you to provide your information to the world.

    The wording of this proposed law is such that almost every post on Slashdot and every other forum (even ones that supposedly require real names like Facebook) would be considered "anonymous".

    Even though I am a registered user, Slashdot does not have my "legal name and home address" as required by this law. Almost no sites that I frequent have my "legal name", despite the fact that they might have what most people would consider is my "real name". And, pretty much the only sites that have my home address are stores that ship me stuff, but I know many people where even that isn't true, as they ship to their work and use a P.O. Box for their credit card billing address.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:10PM (#42973675) Journal

    Lots of stuff is unconstitutional (whether by a state constitution or the US Constitution) and is still enforced; the 4th Amendment in particular has been null and void for a long time ...

    Much of the second as well. That's why you can't have machine guns, silencers, short shotguns, and a number of other guns or accessories in most states and to have them where the states don't ban them you must go through major federal hoops, (fingerprints, $200 tax per item, risk of federal prison {or a shoot the dog, stomp the cat, throw the pregnant wife against the wall and make her miscarry, raid} if the BATF {thinks} your paperwork is defective or you have something you didn't tell them about).

    U.S. v. Miller (1939) said the fed could tax guns that AREN'T suitable for "militia" (military) use, in particular a short barreled ("sawed-off") shotgun (because Miller and his team weren't there to "bring to judicial notice" that they were also called "trench guns" and were an important weapon in WW I). The federal and state governments have taken that to mean they can tax any gun any amount, erect arbitrarily draconian red tape barriers, then bust anyone for screwing up the red tape or failing to pay the tax - "revenuer"/"untouchables"/Waco/Ruby Ridge style.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:19PM (#42973767)

    Liberals these days are less of the line of Locke, etc. and more of the line of Marx and Engels- with adherents along the lines of Che the Butcher, Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, and, and....

  • Re:You stupid AC (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:02PM (#42974099)

    Its only a "reasonable" limitation on free speech. No different than banning assult rifles or 30 round magazines is a "reasonable" limitation on the 2nd amendment.

    I fail to see the difference of one being reasonable and the other not.

  • Re:Meaningless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Technician (215283) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:03PM (#42974121)

    I take exception to the anonymous by default is invisible on slashdot. Nicknames with no real ID is OK on Slashdot. My RL and Slashdot life are only loosly connected so what is said in truth on Slashdot does not fill my inbox in RL with takedown notices and threats of legal action for what I say. Did I mention hardware I own is mine to modify and repair? Did I mention anything else someone would like to suppress by legal threats and or action?

    I have an account. It does not contain my real name, address, or phone number. It does contain my old email address, but that is not publicly revealed. If it was, I am no longer at the address where I was when it was opened. It would take quite a bit of investigation to connect my Slashdot ID with my RL ID, unlike Facebook.

    Because Facebook uses RL info, I post very little on it. It is only family and circle of friends stuff and never used to discuss copyright and other News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters.

    I don't post on Slashdot that I enjoyed a relative's birthday party. I don't post on Facebook what I think about the RIAA or BSA. (Not the scouts)

  • Re:Meaningless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by master5o1 (1068594) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:08PM (#42974151) Homepage

    Also with some people, if they put their legal name then when Facebook asks their friends if their name is correct then they'll most probably say no because it isn't one they recognise.

  • Re:Meaningless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrashPoint (564165) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:54PM (#42974475)

    NO company OR politician should be allowed to suggest that people's anonymity be prohibited.

    You realize that's just as much a violation of the 1st Amendment as forbidding anonymity, right?

  • by SampleFish (2769857) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:55PM (#42974485)

    Cheers! The green party is farther left than the Democrats.

    "The political terms Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution (1789–1799), referring to the seating arrangement in the Estates General: those who sat on the left generally opposed the monarchy and supported the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization,[5] while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Old Regime. Use of the term "Left" became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 when it was applied to the Independents."

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @08:16PM (#42974653)

    There is no constitutional clause that says "freedom of speech, after you provide your legal name and address". It infringes on freedom of speech,

    Just wondering if you apply the same reasoning to the second amendment? Background checks/registration is a requirement to provide legal name and address...

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:10PM (#42975837)

    How is uninformed shit like this getting modded insightful?

    Americans like you are among the most uninformed electorates on the planet today. The average american, and average slashdot poster is CLUELESS about politics.

    The reality is america is totally hard right, obama would have been not long ago a moderate republican (which is hard right in the rest of the world). So you have a bunch of clueless americans who are voting between basically what amounts to the same flavor of hard right ideology with little difference. Many americans then make a big stink about their uninformed political views and opinions.

    Reality is the average american is too ignorant/stupid to have any kind of informed political view of america given the huge amount of propaganda that pervades their media and education system.

    That any intelligent person could even think that the Illinois politicians are hard left is just proof of how much propaganda system down in the states confuses people like the AC and the mods who modded the above post insightful.

  • Re:Meaningless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nametaken (610866) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:51PM (#42976091)

    I'll stick with the following interpretation, courtesy of the Supreme Court, thanks...

    https://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity [eff.org]

    Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A much-cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads:

    Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Friday February 22, 2013 @12:01AM (#42976157)

    Every elected official in this country takes an oath to uphold the laws of the nation. By introducing the Internet Posting Removal Act Ira Silverstein his demonstrated his contempt for the constitution and is unfit to serve in the Illinois state senate.

  • by Nbrevu (2848029) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:20AM (#42977049)

    It got modded insightful because any born and raised American knows that Far-Leftists here are closet Communists. Our counter-culture of the 60s equates to an American version of the "cultural revolution". All of those free radical types then are now running our universities (educational system) and as politicians in office. The chickens have come home to roost. And they have for a long time now. THAT is why this got modded up.

    You know, when we Europeans read this kind of comments we're not sure if thery're serious or not, and I'm positive that most people from the right think about the same. No wonder Poe's law exists.

    I honestly believe, as smug as I might seem, that the average European is a lot more knowledgeable about politics than the average American (American as in someone from the USA, not from the American continent). This is caused by the extremely bipartisan American political system; most European systems allow for a far greater range of political formations to enter office, by lowering the barriers required to get some degree of control (in the USA you need to get the majority in a full state, and then you get all the seats; European countries usually rely on d'Hont's system for a proportional distribution of the power inside each region). This doesn't mean we cannot have de facto bipartisan systems in Europe (we've suffered it for a lot of years in Spain, although it seems to be receding a little; and even so, we always had a minimum of about 7 or 8 different parties with small representativeness in the congress), but they're usually more fragile, which may incentivize parties to invest a little more effort into preventing their voters to flee to another party, i.e., not hearing exclusively to lobbies. All this means that we're usually exposed to a lot more different ideas and reasonings.

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