So would that mean, if Furtopia was based in New York, that we would not be able to post under aliases? Or is it strictly anonymous? Or, do our real identities only have to be revealed to admins?
I’m not completely sure on that, as the whole thing is a little vague, but if
Furtopia was based there, and the bill were passed, we would be affected in some way.
Technically an alias such as the ones we all use here are anonymous names, but whether a legal name is to be displayed publicly or not, is not completely clear, as I’m not sure if a site admin having the info satisfies all the requirements.
And if we go by the text in the bill as 100% literal with no room for any other interpretation, it sounds as if a legal name must be displayed, but only if someone requests the post in question to be removed.
The bill is written in the light of protecting victims of cyber-bulling, (or so it says under justification in the memo section of the bill), but there's no provisions that define a hostile post, or what truly defines a victim.
The only thing the bill specifically addresses are that a post is by someone who’s “anonymous“, and that someone must complain about / report the posting.
And also, there is no provisions defining who can request the removal of a post, though it's indented to be a "victim", which could be a child being bullied, or a business, a political figure, etc.
And there’s nothing that states that such a person (the one that would be doing the reporting), has to be known or identified, so technically anyone can request a post removal.
In fact, the bill is worded so poorly that it technically defines an anonymous poster as…
“any individual who posts a message on a web
site including social networks, blogs forums, message boards or any
other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of
And in section 2 it states that…
“A web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments
posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless such anony-
mous 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.”
Bill text: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A08688&term=2011&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Votes=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y
Honestly, given the wording and the effort (or lack thereof) put into writing the bill, I would think that it’s not likely to pass or go anywhere.
But I think it does set a dangerous tone, and is likely to lead to more things like it, either through rewording this bill, or other states running with the idea and coming up with their own versions.
So in short, I don't see a threat from this exact bill, but it is what is referred to as legislative black ice, and is a sign of things to come and watch out for.