More than two dozen members of the New York state assembly, including nearly half its GOP members, have signed on to a flagrantly unconstitutional bill that would empower complainants to force the takedown of anonymous online speech by claiming to have been victimized by it. To avoid takedown, the website sponsor would have to disclose information about the authorship of the supposedly offensive post including the writer’s name and home address. Eugene Volokh:
Nor would this be limited to comments that allegedly libel someone, or even insult someone (though that would be bad enough), despite all the talk of preventing cyber-bullying by the bill’s backers. Rather, the law would apply any time anyone makes a “request” that a comment be removed, even if the comment doesn’t mention anyone by name but is simply religiously or politically offensive to the “request[er].” The same would apply to anonymous material added to Wikipedia, if Wikipedia were found to be subject to New York jurisdiction, anonymous videos posted to YouTube, and so on.
The sponsors of the bill claim that it is part of a legislative effort against “cyber-bullying.” Scott Greenfield’s post has the best headline: “New York to Publius: You’re Done, Bully-Boy.” Related on “cyber-bullying” here (& welcome Above the Law readers).