New York State Senator Thomas O’Mara (R-NY) and co-sponsors introduced a bill that he says will stop cyberbullying by curtailing anonymous commenting. The bill was also introduced in the state’s Assembly.
Dubbed the “Internet Protection Act,” the bill requires site administrators to remove–when requested–any comments posted on their site by an anonymous poster, unless the poster agrees to attach their name to the post. The poster must also confirm that their IP address, name, and home address is accurate.
The senator’s office said that 42% of middle school students have been bullied at least once and that cyberbullying victims are nearly twice as likely to commit suicide compared to those who have not experienced cyberbullying.
“While the Internet is a wonderful resource for social networking, sadly it can also be used to anonymously bring harm to others,” said New York State Assemblyman Dean Murray in a press release. “My legislation addresses the dangers of cyberbullying and protects the victims of this offense. By demanding these online abusers come out from anonymity and identify themselves, they will hopefully think twice before posting harmful comments about others.”
Google was recently forced to release the identity of one of its blog users who had been anonymously posting degrading material about an individual. The blog user plans to sue Google for violating her First Amendment rights.
Part of the bill requires site administrators to have a contact number or email clearly posted in the comment section for such removal requests.
The bill has been referred to the Codes Committee in the New York State Senate, and the Government Operations Committee in the New York State Assembly.
-Dustin Bass, @dbass_cmn
Photo: Thomas O’Mara, nysenate.gov