Posted Sat, 01/14/06
In some interesting "tech-related" news it is now illegal "to harass someone by posting an anonymous comment on their blog," according to ZDNET Technology's Mitch Ratcliffe.
It is now illegal, after President Bush signed H.R. 3402, the "Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005," to harass someone by posting an anonymous comment on their blog. This is a law open to incredible abuse both by companies and politicians who want to silence critics. "Annoying" someone via comments posted on a blog or Web site is now a crime punishable by fines of up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
That's bad news, because it silences critics. Even if you find a critic annoying, they have a right to speak. The bargain we made with the Web was that everyone, even annoying anonymous critics, has a voice. That's been rolled back and, along with it, another important foundation of freedom of speech.
I agree. There is a difference between valid criticisms and individuals just being nasty because they feel like it. Besides, comments can always be erased by blog authors, and future posts by said "nasty individuals" blocked from future comments. It's a bit less complicated and time-consuming than having someone sent up the river for six months.