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:
A WEB SITE ADMINISTRATOR UPON REQUEST SHALL REMOVE ANY COMMENTS POSTED ON HIS OR HER WEB SITE BY AN ANONYMOUS POSTER UNLESS SUCH 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. ALL WEB SITE ADMINISTRATORS SHALL HAVE A CONTACT NUMBER OR E-MAIL ADDRESS POSTED FOR SUCH REMOVAL REQUESTS, CLEARLY VISIBLE IN ANY SECTIONS WHERE COMMENTS ARE POSTED.
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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Atkray (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    "it's difficult to put both of these laws together and not see some sort of extreme hypocrisy."

    Hard to not see hypocrisy, and easy to see which lobbyists have been to see good ole Ira.

     

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      DannyB (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:30pm

      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.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

        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. :-)

         

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    Rikuo (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    Normally I would demand that US politicians take First Amendment classes upon taking office, but...didn't the president once teach the Constitution? And how well did that go?

     

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      TheLastCzarnian (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

      Re:

      Don't forget the Second Amendment while you're at it...

       

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      DannyB (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

      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.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:57pm

        Re: Re:

        Maybe they should be held financially responsible for any unconstitutional laws they vote yes on. That'd solve the problem.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

      Re:

      "but...didn't the president once teach the Constitution?"

      Republicans all received failing grades!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:00pm

    Illinois is to dumb politicians what Florida is to crazy people.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:05pm

    Illinois attempting to ignore the Constitution? Par for the course.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:06pm

    Seriously I'd have to give them my name, my IP and my address, a phone number and an e-mail just to comment? Good luck getting anyone to comment under those restrictions.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    Ignoring most of the Bill of Rights while protecting the precious 2nd amendment. You couldn't make it up.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:12pm

      Re:

      The 2nd Amendment allows gun ownership to enable the creation of "a well-regulated militia".
      Since the National Guard IS, oficially, our militia, shoudn't gun ownership automatically include serving in the National Guard?

       

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        weneedhelp (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:56pm

        Re: Re:

        In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 10:50pm

          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.

           

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            R.H. (profile), Feb 20th, 2013 @ 9:06am

            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 ^_^

             

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2013 @ 4:54pm

        Re: Re:

        that proves you have no clue what a militia is
        a militia is every citizen armed and reaedy
        the national guard is part of the governemnt military

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:19pm

    jesus! i thought other countries had thick fuckers in political/government positions, but the USA takes the biscuit! how the hell can it be more important to know who called you a twat than who shot you? this guy needs to get some clever brain cells and in a hurry!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    There is no conflict between his two laws, Lack of anonymity allows the authorities to match the anti-government speakers to the gun owners. But keeping the gun owner data private makes it harder for someone to arm themselves anonymously.

     

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    John Doe, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:28pm

    Playing the devil's advocate

    Since the pen (or keyboard in this example) is mightier than the sword, it must be regulated.

     

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      DannyB (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

      Re: Playing the devil's advocate

      > Since the pen (or keyboard in this example) is mightier than the sword, it must be regulated.

      Yes, because people with brains who can form proper sentences are far more dangerous than a mob with guns.

       

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        John Doe, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:43pm

        Re: Re: Playing the devil's advocate

        That mob was probably incited to riot by the media. Either through misleading reporting or maybe by a being state run media spewing out hate.

         

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          DannyB (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:48pm

          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.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:39pm

    oh, how stupid...

    "It kind of makes me wonder who is going around giving state politicians this language."
    ...hmm... now that's interesting. I've been reading your blog for quite some time now, but this is the first time that you suggest that this all might be more than mere stupidity.
    I agree.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:42pm

    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.

     

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      John Doe, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      Especially when it comes to a constitutional right. Any right you have to ask permission to exercise is not really a right.

       

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        DannyB (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

        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.

         

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          John Doe, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 5:05pm

          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.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    A vicious cycle

    People call Silverstein an idiot.

    Silverstein responds by trying to pass a law making it illegal for people to call him an idiot.

    Dumb moves like that are the reason people are calling him an idiot in the first place.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:55pm

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

    Sounds like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is at work again. They push legislation at the state level, moving from state to state.

     

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    Mr. Applegate, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:01pm

    Simple Explanation

    Guns don't kill political careers, but words do.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    How am I expected to comply with being an anonymous gun owner if I can't post anonymously to tell the world about my latest gun purchase?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    We should outlaw politicians, is an old concept that should be revised and brought up to the 21th century.

     

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    Vidiot (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    Moving target practice

    My DHCP address is 69.252.80.66. Oh, wait... no it's not any more. Hey, look... now it's your address, Senator!

     

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    JWW (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

    Truism

    Hypocrite, thy name is Politician.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    I know the real reason behind this: It'll reduce child porn. Think about it: who else benefits from being able to be anonymous?

     

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    Oscar Wild, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

     

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    mockingbird (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    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.
    rubbish.
    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"...

     

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    Wally (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 2:54pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 3:06pm

    Isn't the Ira a terrorist organization?

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 19th, 2013 @ 3:57pm

    Given his inability to understand Federal Law and his wasteful use of the public's time, money and trust in these matters maybe it would be best that IL send Ira I. Silverstein back to be an anonymous citizen and get someone more focused on fixing real things in office.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 4:08pm

    How dare you

    criticize Illinois, the state I was born and raised in....oh never mind, you're right, Illinois does suck hairy balls.

     

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    special interesting, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 7:12pm

    (warning:rant)

    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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    Baron von Robber, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 7:18pm

    We need a law...

    ... that whenever legislators meet, they must wear clown suits with corporate sponsor patches.

     

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    Nunya Dam Bidness, Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 11:24pm

    Anonymous

    Posting Anonymously....suck it senator.

     

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