oliphaunt writes "This week at The Legality, Tracy Frazier has an article discussing the damage that can be done by anonymous online comments. While regulars here are familiar with infamous bits of Net censorship like the Fishman Affidavit fiasco, and everyone has been an anonymous coward at least once or twice, some of you may not know about the conflict between Heide Iravani and AutoAdmit.com. Heide eventually filed a lawsuit because the first result for a Google search on her name brought up anonymous comments on AutoAdmit that accused her of carrying an STD and sleeping her way to the top of her class. The Communications Decency Act was supposed to prevent this kind of thing, but an injunction prevented it from ever being enforced and eventually the Supreme Court killed it. Should the law be changed?" The article links to a proposal from last summer in the New Jersey legislature that would institute a DMCA-like takedown regime for allegedly defamatory content posted on a Web site, and would allow aggrieved parties to demand the identity of anonymous posters without a subpoena. No indication of how that proposal fared. Also linked is a recent North Carolina proposal that would criminalize the act of defaming someone using an electronic medium. This proposal shields Web sites from liability and explicitly does not apply to anonymous speech.
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