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Bill would eliminate derogatory, anonymous web posts



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The Internet Protection Act sponsored by Assemblyman Dean Murray, left, and Sen. Thomas O’Mara, right, would require websites from New York state based companies to have toll free numbers or e-mail addresses for victims of negative anonymous postings to request the comments to be removed. Photo by Andrew Carden.
May 14, 2012
A new bill called the Internet Protection Act would give people the ability to request that disparaging, anonymous posts be removed from websites owned by New York-based companies in an effort to stop cyberbullying.

"While the Internet is a wonderful resource for social networking, sadly it can also be used to anonymously bring harm to others," said Assemblyman Dean Murray, R-East Patchogue.

The legislation (A.8688/S.6779) is sponsored by Murray and Sen. Thomas O'Mara, R-Big Flats. If enacted, victims of anonymous website postings can request the posts be removed if the source refuses to attach his or her name to the comment.

"This bill will offer them the opportunity to either confront the person making these comments by having that person identified," said Murray, "or have the comment removed all together in the case where this comment is false or slanderous."

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The measure would require these websites to have either a toll-free phone number or e-mail address for victims of cyberbullying to contact. If a complaint is filed, the website administrator will be required to contact the original commenter, who is given 48 hours to identify themselves as the author of the anonymous post or else the comment will be deleted.

"The internet has been a great innovation for our time, it's brought forth a lot of advantages, but with that, there are abuses that come with it," said O'Mara. "This will help lend some accountability to the internet age."

Murray points to "letters to the editor" in newspapers, saying you must identify yourself so you can "own that comment." The assemblyman says if the information posted on a website is true, then he or she should have no problem attaching their name to the comment.

The legislation would only affect New York-based websites such as blogs and newspapers, but Murray hopes it will start the conversation nationwide and become a federal bill.

"There's got to be a starting point," said Murray. "If we don't start somewhere, it's not going to spread. A lot of times New York does lead the way for the nation."

In addition to protecting against cyberbullying, Murray says this bill would be beneficial to small businesses such as restaurants. Many websites have sections for reviews or recommendations and competitors can use these forums to post negative comments about the business.

Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Scoharie, co-sponsor of the bill, said the internet is akin to the "wild west: almost anything goes." He asked, "How do we take a resource that is so beneficial and make sure it is used properly? Make sure we are civilized as we conduct ourselves in the use of that resource?"

Murray admitted to being a victim of derogatory website posts two years ago during his re-election campaign. An anonymous source posted on multiple websites that Murray committed acts of domestic violence against his ex-wife. The anonymous posts also said Murray's son was hiding from his father because he was being abused.

"These comments were absolutely horrible and unfortunately if you Google them now you'll still be able to pull up a couple of the comments," said Murray.

At the time, Murray's ex-wife was living in Maryland and offered to come to New York to help him clear his name; his son is in the military and was overseas at the time.

"Cyberbullying has become an epidemic in this country," said Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, R-Blooming Grove, who is a co-sponsor of the bill. "With the advancement of social media, bullies are able to attack their victims wherever and whenever they choose."

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  1. print email
    Really?
    May 15, 2012 | 10:20 AM

    There does not need to be a law for this. If a site wants to eliminate this type of anonymous posting then they should employee moderators to keep the tone of the site. If a person doesn't want to read this kind of anonymous posting then don't read sites that allow it. Waste of government time and resources.

    NotNecessary
  2. print email
    May 23, 2012 | 09:15 AM

    Seriously? What about CDNs physically located in NY that serve news and video from very popular sites say, wikipedia.org? And how are you going to verify all this information? Like, I go through Tor, I tell you I'm Jim Conte, I give you his home address and then I verify that I'm indeed him and all this time someone on the staff of this news site is ... doing what exactly? Verifying how? Are they calling ISPs and saying "Hey, does this IP address check out for this home address? And how on Earth are they going to be able to afford to do this for anonymous comments? Your basically banning anonymous free speech on the internet because a small site does not have the time or resources to fact check this stuff. And since I can easily say I'm someone else...how does this stop cyber-bullying and negative reviews again?

    Jasen
  3. print email
    Totalitarianism
    May 23, 2012 | 11:54 AM

    That's all this is! My parents taught me how to deal with bullies, it didn't take a law!

    Dale
  4. print email
    Community organizing to stop the bill
    May 23, 2012 | 12:51 PM

    We've started a facebook page to help stop the legislation:

    "Stop NY State Bill S06779" Facebook Page:
    https://www.facebook.com/Stop6779

    We're hoping that we can spread the word about A.8688/S.6779 -- we'd be interested to hear what other Legislative Gazette readers have to say.

    BColthurst
  5. print email
    Anonymous
    May 23, 2012 | 04:50 PM

    Here is the text of the pertinent part of the bill:

    A WEB SITE ADMINISTRATOR UPON REQUEST SHALL REMOVE ANY COMMENTS POSTED ON HIS OR HER WEB SITE BY AN ANONYMOUS POSTER UNLESS SUCH ANONYMOUS 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.

    Where does this say it's limited to bullying kids? It's not. Rather, anyone could demand that a post be removed, even if they were unconnected to the story. There are lots of good reasons to allow anonymous posts, primarily to allow posters to put up info or opinions without fear of retribution from big business, politicians or even criminals ("home address" are you kidding me?).

    More people need to see what this bill actually says and think about what it can actually do; and forget about the noble-sounding "anti-bullying" excuse for this totalitarian effort.

    Jonathan Swift
  6. print email
    goodbye usa
    May 23, 2012 | 06:45 PM

    I will be amazed if your not all microchiped within a few years

    Canadian border is being closed

    77Milk has female hormones and the cows are also pumped with female hormones, it makes men think like a girl and soft body. Not to mention the fluoride77

    New York politicians are un-American and need to be sued

    eh eh AND the main stream media is so corrupt why not fix that mate???

    the internet is the only place to find ANY Truth

    you need to fix the PRIVATE Federal Reserve and take your country back its the head of the snake, if the politicians wont do that says it all, CORRUPT

    illegals need to be sent home to fix their own country not bring problems with them, if i left my country when its in trouble how am i worthy of another country? I WOULD NOT

    Peter
  7. print email
    Corrupt
    May 23, 2012 | 06:49 PM

    I wouldnt by a used car from either of them

    eh eh they ignore the lies in the Lame Stream Media and media ownership monopoly



    Peter
  8. print email
    Internet usage
    May 23, 2012 | 09:35 PM

    When Parliament legislate about the Internet then underconver of security of whatever it will soon outlaw political opponents, etc. The intentions may be commendable at start but others may find a way to abuse it for other ulterior purposes, as generally always happen. History is full of examples and so let avoid this being another one of them and oppose it all together.

    Mr G. H. Schorel-Hlavka O.W.B.
  9. print email
    BOOOO!!
    May 24, 2012 | 04:07 AM

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    SO FUCK YOU!

    Anni
  10. print email
    tyranny
    May 24, 2012 | 07:05 AM

    When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.
    Thomas Jefferson

    Eddie
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