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Topic: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

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  1. #1
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    NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    The New Jersey legislature is considering a bill to require operators of forums to collect users' legal names and addresses, and effectively disallow anonymous posts on online forums. The bill provides for reasonable procedures to enable any person to request the legal name and address of a poster who posts false or defamatory information about the person on a public forum website.

    The proposed legislation also allows a person who is damaged by false or defamatory written messages on a public forum website to file suit for damages against an operator (watch out PapaChalk ) Under current law it must be shown that a forum operator is more than merely a disinterested provider in order to prevail in a lawsuit.

    This raises some interesting and serious issues and could have some far-reaching consequences. If successfully adopted, such a law could spread to other states and/or countries.

    Do you think it is a good idea to disallow anonymous posts on forums? Will this quell free speech? Or will it promote free speech further by making dialog more honest and open?

    Below is the text of the proposed bill:

    --------------------------------------------------------
    ASSEMBLY, No. 1327STATE OF NEW JERSEY
    212th LEGISLATURE

    PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2006 SESSION


    Sponsored by:
    Assemblyman PETER J. BIONDI
    District 16 (Morris and Somerset)


    SYNOPSIS:
    Makes certain operators of interactive computer services and Internet service providers liable to persons injured by false or defamatory messages posted on public forum websites.

    CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT: As introduced.


    An Act concerning the posting of certain Internet messages and supplementing chapter 38A of Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.
    Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

    1. As used in this act:
    "Information content provider" means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.
    "Interactive computer service" means any information system, service, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides service to the Internet.
    "Internet" means the international computer network of both federal and non-federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
    "Internet service provider" or "provider" means any person, business or organization qualified to do business in this State that provides individuals, corporations, or other entities with the ability to connect to the Internet through equipment that is located in this State.
    "Operator" means any person, business or organization qualified to do business in this State that operates an interactive computer service.

    2. The operator of any interactive computer service or an Internet service provider shall establish, maintain and enforce a policy to require any information content provider who posts written messages on a public forum website either to be identified by a legal name and address, or to register a legal name and address with the operator of the interactive computer service or the Internet service provider through which the information content provider gains access to the interactive computer service or Internet, as appropriate.

    3. An operator of an interactive computer service or an Internet service provider shall establish and maintain reasonable procedures to enable any person to request and obtain disclosure of the legal name and address of an information content provider who posts false or defamatory information about the person on a public forum website.

    4. Any person who is damaged by false or defamatory written messages that originate from an information content provider who posts such messages on a public forum website may file suit in Superior Court against an operator or provider that fails to establish, maintain and enforce the policy required pursuant to section 2 of P.L.c. (C.) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and may recover compensatory and punitive damages and the cost of the suit, including a reasonable attorney's fee, cost of investigation and litigation from such operator or provider.

    5. This act shall take effect on the 90th day following enactment.


    STATEMENT
    This bill would require an operator of any interactive computer service or an Internet service provider to establish, maintain and enforce a policy requiring an information content provider who posts messages on a public forum website either to be identified by legal name and address or to register a legal name and address with the operator or provider prior to posting messages on a public forum website.
    The bill requires an operator of an interactive computer service or an Internet service provider to establish and maintain reasonable procedures to enable any person to request and obtain disclosure of the legal name and address of an information content provider who posts false or defamatory information about the person on a public forum website.
    In addition, the bill makes any operator or Internet service provider liable for compensatory and punitive damages as well as costs of a law suit filed by a person damaged by the posting of such messages if the operator or Internet service provider fails to establish, maintain and enforce the policy required by section 2 of the bill.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    I am all for forum operators requiring a "real names" policy.

    However, I am dead set against legislation demanding it. I cannot imagine the attempt withstanding the most minor challenge.

  3. #3

    Re: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    I am all for forum operators requiring a "real names" policy.

    However, I am dead set against legislation demanding it. I cannot imagine the attempt withstanding the most minor challenge.
    Agreed.

    And, define defamatory. Must be at least 500 million interpretations out there, depending on the quality of the discussed product and service, and who's trying to shut who up.

    Alex.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tom Crowning's Avatar
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    Re: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    Anonymous posting should NOT be allowed, but an email address and
    the IP of a poster of a given subject should be enough to track down
    any abuse.
    As for 'suit for damages against an operator', the german law says that after
    the operator is informed of forum abuse he has a given time to delete
    the postings. That's all and that's good enough.

    If an operator gets suit for forum content it'll be the end of all
    forums.

    Tom

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Re: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    Personally I'm looking forward to the time when we have to hot wire our genitalia to the keypad so officials can zap our balls every time we don't tow the line. Nanny me up.

  6. #6

    Re: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    I don't know that it would be a terrible thing for legislation to require details to be lodged. My wife belongs to a forum for people suffering with Bipolar disorder, where one member recently posted a suicide note. Fortunately another forum member knew who they were, sent someone round, and they were talked out of it. The would-be suicide was later very grateful when their mood swung back.

    See, you may argue that the poster had every right to commit suicide, and legislation which would enable others to know exactly where to find them, would be unfair. But those with Bipolar disorder really aren't themselves when they have a 'low' period.

  7. #7
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    Re: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    This bill sounds perfectly reasonable to me, as I wasn't using my civil liberties anyway.

    But would this make all those folk songs written by my favorite composer, Anon Trad, illegal as well?

    Sincerely,

    Anonymous

  8. #8

    Re: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Pingu
    I don't know that it would be a terrible thing for legislation to require details to be lodged. My wife belongs to a forum for people suffering with Bipolar disorder, where one member recently posted a suicide note. Fortunately another forum member knew who they were, sent someone round, and they were talked out of it. The would-be suicide was later very grateful when their mood swung back.

    See, you may argue that the poster had every right to commit suicide, and legislation which would enable others to know exactly where to find them, would be unfair. But those with Bipolar disorder really aren't themselves when they have a 'low' period.
    In this case it worked out well that the suicide attempter had a real-life friend on the forums, but don't you feel that was a voluntary choice on his/her part - to participate in a forum where they already knew someone else personally? And there are already forums that require real-name registration on their own volition. When this requirement comes at the government level though, it's tough not to raise eyebrows about their motives and timing; especially in light of the recent case against Google.
    Wilbert Roget, II
    Composer
    Rogetmusic.com

  9. #9

    Re: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    I don't know that it would be a terrible thing for legislation to require details to be lodged. My wife belongs to a forum for people suffering with Bipolar disorder, where one member recently posted a suicide note. Fortunately another forum member knew who they were, sent someone round, and they were talked out of it. The would-be suicide was later very grateful when their mood swung back.

    See, you may argue that the poster had every right to commit suicide, and legislation which would enable others to know exactly where to find them, would be unfair. But those with Bipolar disorder really aren't themselves when they have a 'low' period.
    I would think however, that the rest of the bi-polar group perhaps might want their privacy from their employers, friends or insurance companies finding out about what might be perceived as a potential disability or liability, while still being able to participate in a forum for support and whorthwhile advice.

  10. #10

    Re: NJ Bill Seeks to Prohibit Anonymous Posts on Forums

    I don't have any problem with this initially without having read all the nitty gritty details. I personally dislike that there are so many cowards out in cyber-space who shoot off at the mouth very defamatory remarks without having the balls to let others know who they are.
    _______________________________________
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