Kentucky Lawmaker Wants to Make Anonymous Internet Posting Illegal

Representative Tim Couch, a Republican from Kentucky wants to make it illegal for people to post anonymously on Internet Web sites. Sorry Tim, you’re way off base here.

His idea is to have the site operator fined $500 for the first time they allow someone to post anonymously, then $1,000 each time after. He wants to cut down on online bullying. Has that feel-good legislation feel to it ya know?

Kentucky Lawmaker Wants to Make Anonymous Internet Posting Illegal
By Kellie Wilson
Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal.

The bill would require anyone who contributes to a website to register their real name, address and e-mail address with that site.

Their full name would be used anytime a comment is posted.

If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.

Representative Couch says he filed the bill in hopes of cutting down on online bullying. He says that has especially been a problem in his Eastern Kentucky district.

Action News 36 asked people what they thought about the bill.

Some said they felt it was a violation of First Amendment rights. Others say it is a good tool toward eliminating online harassment.

Represntative [sic] Couch says enforcing this bill if it became law would be a challenge.

Let’s assume that Couch is referring to the private sector. Since the sites are privately owned, the owners can do what they want and should not be regulated. My site requires registration to post comments. If you’re a bully, or I just don’t like you, guess what? You’re gone. There is no freedom of speech here – it’s my house.

There are plenty of provisions in place to deal with anonymous online threats. The site owner has the ability to control comments in many ways. My Wordpress software allows me to require registration, approve comments individually, put posters into probation or block users and IP addresses. If a threat is posted on my site, the authorities will be contacted and you can expect a knock on your door – we track the IP address of your computer. (A good reason to secure your wireless network people!)

That said, if I did require that you provide me your real name and address to post, and/or I decide not to post your comments here, that is not a violation of the 1st Amendment. The 1st Amendment refers to the government’s regulation of speech, not mine.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names…