I'm not a fan of the sewage that is most anonymous comments. In my little part of the blogging world they come from lawyers, lawyers parading as cowards - afraid to express their thoughts unless protected by anonynimity. But I certainly don't support federal legislation controlling the sewage.
Senator Joe Lieberman does?
I've learned that Sen. Lieberman plans to introduce a bill this week to strip site owners of Section 230 protections for the posts of anonymous commenters.
(The text of the amendment is here.)
Lieberman's bill would end the Internet as we know it. By a simple change from "shall" to "may," Lieberman will empower a Republican-dominated federal judiciary to decide on whim and caprice which site owners are protected from liability their commenters' actions, and who faces potentially massive judgments.
Now I know the anonymous commenting union deeply supports their cause - that of saying whatever they want, regardless of truth, without recourse. The argument is always that anonymous commenting is important because it actually allows people to be honest without fear of retribution - like when they report something to the local police on their "tip" line.
The difference of course is that those anonymous tips don't usually involve false attacks on someone's reputation, nor do they live on the internet.
But this amendment is in the name of anti-terrorism, which allows legislation to pass, regardless of whether it's constitutional, right, or simply fair.
I've gone back and forth on the anonymous commenting thing - allowing it, not allowing it, allowing it when it's not simply one of my "fans" too afraid to say anything to my face and has an axe to grind. There is of course no First Amendment right to anonymous commenting (don't tell the anonymous commenters that), but using congressional power to further control the idiots on the internet is dangerous.
Anonymous comments are welcome as long as they say something relevant and half-way intelligent and arent a vehicle for a coward to attack someone. I trust you understand.
Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.