Illinois Bill To Outlaw Online Anonymity Dropped Because People Got Pissed Off, Not Because It's Unconstitutional

from the that's-one-way-to-do-lawmaking dept

We recently wrote about Illinois state senator Ira Silverstein and his bizarre decision to push an obviously unconstitutional bill that would effectively ban anonymous speech online. Basically, any site that accepted comments or user content, would be required to get the real names and addresses of anyone who comments, or agree to pull any anonymous content. As we noted at the time, the bill appeared to be an almost exact replica of a NY state bill that was widely mocked online for being unconstitutional.

Silverstein has now pulled the bill, admitting that "the heat" the bill generated was too much, so he dropped it. But what's truly incredible is his apparent inability to understand why people were so upset. He doesn't seem particularly apologetic about it, though he does admit that he copied the NY bill, which he discovered while surfing the internet:
"I do a lot of reading, a lot of research, over break," he said. "And I came across this idea that had been suggested in New York (state) as a way to combat cyberbullying. Kids can be very mean on the Internet, and I thought this might be a way of controlling that."
So it's another "save the children!" excuse, without, apparently, even attempting to think through the consequences (or constitutionality) of what he was proposing. For all the "reading" and "research" he did over break, you'd think he would have come across the complete tear downs of that same NY bill and why it was unconstitutional. I'm glad the bill was pulled, but it would be nicer if there was some flicker of recognition from Silverstein as to why the bill was so problematic in the first place.
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Filed Under: anonymity, free speech, illinois, ira silverstein


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2013 @ 6:45pm

    Re:

    The kind of legislator who would introduce an obviously unconstitutional bill is the kind who isn't going to care about that sort of thing later.

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