Lawmakers in New York State want to throw out the First Amendment online

This is really disturbing. Reports are coming in that lawmakers in New York State are proposing legislation that seems to be a clear violation of the First Amendment rights of Americans. The proposed legislation would require websites based in New York, including blogs and newspapers, to remove any comments posted on the website by an anonymous user. The lawmakers claim the move is to combat cyber bullying and political attacks with no merit.

The only way an anonymous message would be allowed to stand is if the legislation was passed would be if the anonymous poster agreed to attach their name to the post. New York Republican assemblyman Jim Conte said, "[The legislation would end] mean-spirited and baseless political attacks" and "turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity." The problem is it also violates the users First Amendment rights.

I'm all for stopping cyber bullying, but legislation like this with potentially vast implications is not the way to do it. The proposed bill also stipulates that a website have a contact number or e-mail address posted allowing users to send removal requests to site owners. It's worth noting that the proposed legislation has no requirements for the people requesting a takedown to identify themselves.

"This statute would essentially destroy the ability to speak anonymously online on sites in New York," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney with the Center for Democracy and Technology. He continued, "[the legislation provides a] heckler's veto to anybody who disagrees with or doesn't like what an anonymous poster said."

[via Wired]