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. icon
    special-interesting (profile), 1 Mar 2013 @ 4:21pm

    Obviously Senator Ira Silverstein is another victim of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA).

    Here is a decent (and typical,there are many) article on the misguided emphasis on how the NCLBA measures only Reading Writing and Math ignoring Science and History. http://www.nea.org/home/39774.htm In local newspapers its common that teachers cry of history being passed over in place of NCLBA test score remedial classes. Thats right, special classes just to game the NCLBA test scores. Gym class? Ha! Why would gym be more important than Science and History?

    Why was his first solution be to restrict the rights of citizens anyway. If he reads a lot ya think he would start with the first and fourth amendments. I wish someone would copyright the NY bill so it would vanish down the drain of eternal copyright (which actually might do some minuscule good in this case). But that would be historically bad because we need to learn from such nonsense.

    For the children... he would forge chains of bondage with his limited mindset. In fact just because he mentioned the word “children” makes me shiver anticipating future tainted legislation.

    It is impossible to understate the value of anonymity in all dealings with the net so much so I question his reading list. He did not read 1984 did he? And if he did... how many brain cells are actually plugged in and powered up in his head anyway.

    Heres my post on the political circus playing out daily in IL (its actually not very long); http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130219/10065822029/illinois-politician-seeks-to-outlaw-anonymous- comments-allow-anonymous-gun-ownership.shtml#c631 Want to be an IL politician? Its aaaall in the name.

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