Illinois Politician Seeks To Outlaw Anonymous Comments (But Allow Anonymous Gun Ownership)

from the is-anonymity-good-or-bad? dept

Last year, we wrote about a ridiculous and obviously First Amendment-infringing attempt by some thin-skinned NY politicians to pass a law that would effectively ban anonymous comments online. The mechanism would be that a website would have to remove any comments, upon request, unless the commenter agreed to reveal their name, and connect the comment to their name and home address. As we noted, the Supreme Court has been pretty clear that protecting anonymous speech is a key part of the First Amendment:

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.

It would appear that Illinois State Senator Ira I. Silverstein needs a refresher course on this basic concept, as he’s recently introduced an almost identical bill to the New York one. Seriously. The wording is about as close to identical as you could imagine. Here’s the Illinois wording.

Creates the Internet Posting Removal Act. Provides that a web site administrator shall, upon request, remove any posted comments posted 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.

Here’s the widely mocked NY wording:


It kind of makes me wonder who is going around giving state politicians this language.

Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis notes the ultimate irony that the very same Ira I. Silverstein, just days after introducing that bill to effectively ban internet anonymity, proposed another bill to keep gun owner info anonymous, amending the freedom of information act to exempt firearms ownership data from being available to the public.

Whatever you might believe about anonymous comments and/or gun ownership, it’s difficult to put both of these laws together and not see some sort of extreme hypocrisy.

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Comments on “Illinois Politician Seeks To Outlaw Anonymous Comments (But Allow Anonymous Gun Ownership)”

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DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“it’s difficult to put both of these laws together and not see some sort of extreme hypocrisy.”

If anonymous comments were permitted, then how could the anonymous gun owners track down those who write comments the gun owner does not like?

Think of the 2nd amendment rights of the gun owners! You can’t go infringing their rights like that by allowing anonymous comments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It works both ways though! If an anonymous synonym like say DannyB wants to find gun owners, he just have to find them on the internet. Whenever the gun owner interacts with others through gun owner website y, the anonymous commenter can request to get the name and address of the gun owner. If the gun owner doesn’t want to remove the comment, he is identified.
If the gun owner deletes what he wrote, the anonymous commneter can just monitor the persons profile and if they ever write anything again, rinse and repeat!

If the user is tied to a mail like most, the gun owner needs a new mailaddress to get posting again and considering the level of internet knowledge most normal people have…

I love the irony in this combination! Imagine the power of the anonymous post-remover! Good IP tracking and you can essentially censor all you want or find “special interest” people. 🙂

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

How about the constitution.

Politicians should be expected to pass constitutional laws. They are bound by the constitution. They expect us to be bound by the laws they pass. Then those laws should at least be constitutional. It should not take an expensive, time wasting, and court time wasting and risky process of going to court to get an unconstitutional law overturned.

Politicians should be required to know the constitution. Not just the first amendment. Maybe they also should understand the 2nd amendment more carefully as well rather than what they are led to believe that it means.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It also said…
The Supreme Court stated, however, that the Second Amendment should not be understood as conferring a ?right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.? The Court provided examples of laws it considered ?presumptively lawful,? including those which:
Prohibit firearm possession by felons and the mentally ill;
Forbid firearm possession in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings; and
Impose conditions on the commercial sale of firearms.

Funny how you left those points out, boy.

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The militia of the United States

I invite you to read 10 USC 311:

?311. Militia: composition and classes
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are?
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

This little piece of law means that I, as a male citizen between 17 and 45, am a member of the ‘militia of the United States’ and if a militia created by federal law isn’t ‘well-regulated’ then I don’t know what is ^_^

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Playing the devil's advocate

Another way to look at it is that the mob was incited to riot by the media. Through accurate reporting and being independent of the government.

I’m just pointing out that it can work both ways.

The pen is mightier than the sword. But who the pen is a danger to can work against both good guys and bad guys.

In fact, I would dare say the pen is more of a danger to bad guys. You can always shine more light on a subject by having more information and more verifiable information written about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

The true hypocrisy comes from the Main Stream Media and the so called progressives who demonize the law abiding supporters of the second amendment.
Prior to the current push to ban guns the MSM paid little attention to gun permit holders. Non criminal gun permit holders I might add.
Personally I am for anonymity is all it’s forms.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Any right you have to ask permission to exercise is not really a right.

What about forbidding certain individuals from exercising their ‘right’? For example, would you agree with the premise that convicted felons should not be forbidden from gun ownership?

Should anyone be allowed to own an assault weapon?

What about nuclear weapons?

Is there somewhere that we draw lines around any of these things?

Maybe you have a right to get married, but states still expect you to get a marriage license.

Why shouldn’t driving be a right instead of a privilege? What about fishing? Both of those activities require licenses.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Sorry for the late reply but here goes.

Haven’t thought really hard about depriving someone of their right for committing a crime but “feels” ok. Will have to consider it more though.

Yes, anyone should be allowed to own an assault weapon. Hard to fight a tyrannical government with anything less (and yes, that is what the 2nd amendment is for).

Nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction, no. If a government used those on its own people it would in effect be using it on itself.

Should marriage even be regulated by the government? Why should someone have to ask the government if they can get married?

Driving should be a right otherwise you become a prisoner of your own land. That is crap.

mockingbird (profile) says:

anonymous voting

I’d like to see the ‘voice’ vote option removed from congress and the senate, that is their version of anonymous voting, which they use for unpopular law. so it can pass, but you’ll never know who ovted for it or against it.
but, that’s the public money at work.
in the private sector, anonymous speech seems lie a natural right.
not sure how they can bann anonymous commenting if the first amendment starts with “congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech”… it doesn’t follow up with “as long as the person speaking makes his address and name public, so we can track him down”…

Wally (profile) says:

Won't happen....

It is quite clear that anonymity and free speech go hand-in-hand when combined as an entity. It is also outlined within the first article of the Constitution of the United States that staying anonymous for commenting is a part of free speech. No state laws shall supersede that of the Constitution is another article….In other words, the bill proposed by Ira Silverstein.

Now as for the complaint of a lack of a registered database for gun owners….that is also a concept that is unconstitutional and was also struck down in In McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010)…..which also adheres to the 14th Amendment.

special interesting says:


Illinois politicians are dumb. Yes. A fact. Correct to the nth degree. Politicians are crass stupid, backstabbing and do not know how to read the constitution or never bothered or worse never cared or even worse know about it all and gave it up for some special interest group.

However this ignores the obvious question of how they got there. Voters put them there. Voters listened to their campaign speeches and liked them enough to vote for them. In the above rant please replace the word politicians for voters and you get the idea.

The best way to be elected in Illinois is name recognition combined with nepotism (family). Is your last name the same as a current senator? Go for it. (Jackson) Are you the son of a famous city mayor and have the same last name? Go for it. (Daley) Is your dad a famous senator and you have some state office you want to run for? Go for it. (Madigan)

Want a new tax to fritter away on corruption and government waste? Just tell the voters its a temporary tax and the voters will believe every word of it. No tax has ever been repealed. Ever.

An Illinois voter is like a bad word. (Related issue is American voter.)

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