March 7, 2006

Stupid Bill.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:39 pm

I suspect that New Jersey Bloggers will have a good deal to say about this stupid bill that was sponsored by Republican Assemblyman Peter Biondi of Somerset County, New Jersey.

The bill, among other things, would require an “operator of an interactive computer service [a blogger] ” to “establish, maintain and enforce a policy to require any information content provider [a commenter] who posts written messages [comments] on a public forum website [a blog] either to be identified by a legal name and address, or to register a legal name [i.e. the commenter’s name and, presumably, a mailing address]”

The statute further requires that bloggers “establish and maintain reasonable procedures to enable any person to request and obtain disclosure of the legal name and address of an information content provider who posts false or defamatory information about the person on a public forum website”. This would require bloggers to see that ANYONE who feels that he or she was defamed in a comment to be able to obtain from the blogger the name and address of the commenter who made what that person believes to have been a defamatory statement. All they have to do is ask.

Finally, a blogger who fails to establish and maintain such procedures (i.e. procedures for maintaining the names and addresses of all commenters) can be sued to for compensatory and punitive damages (big bucks) by anyone who is damaged by a defamatory remark posted by a commenter.

Anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the Internet and the blogosphere realizes what a ridiculous bill this is. More subtle, but still quite clear, are the potential First Amendment issues lurking in this stupid bill, which would: (a) hold bloggers responsible for failing to require each commenter to provide a “legal name and legal address” if one such commenter makes a comment that turns out to be defamatory, and (b) discourage legitimate commenters (i.e. those not intending to defame anyone) from leaving comments.

Notably, but not surprisingly, the bill does not address the numerous reasons why many, if not all, legitimate commenters would reasonably be hesitant to toss his or her name and address into cyberspace. (Yo, Assamblyman … Identity Theft? Have you heard about it? It’s in all the papers.)

New Jersey is going to Hell in a hand basket, and we have an Assemblyman writing a bill dealing with the Internet, when, considering the ham-handedness of this bill, he should consider writing buggy whip legislation.

This bill is going nowhere.

The Jersey Side and The Wrightwing have more.

Thanks to Committees of Correspondence for the Heads Up.


  1. What prompted Biondi to come up with such an idiotic bill? Someone must have posted something Biondi didn’t like and now he’s out to put a stop to it. It would be interesting to know the real story behind his bill. Thankfully, as you rightly pointed out, it’s going nowhere

    Comment by Emlighten-NewJersey — March 7, 2006 @ 11:27 pm

  2. I’m no constitutional scholar, but at least I’ve read it. There are two angles from which to attack this turd should it pass the legislature:
    1. As you pointed out, this would have the effect of suppressing speech, and would therefore violate the first amendment.
    2. Blogs are a marketplace for ideas. These ideas (and the ad revenues / other tangible benefits that they generate) cross state lines via the internet. This means that blogs are a form of commerce “among the Several States.” Under Article I, Section 8, Congress has the power to regulate such commerce. The people did not delegate such power to the states, and thus they may not take it.

    Comment by Ken Adams — March 7, 2006 @ 11:41 pm

  3. I guess AP, CNN, MSNBC, CBS and DU websites will have to be shut down! Bummer, man!

    Comment by MCPO Airdale — March 8, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

  4. This bill is going nowhere fast. Biondi probably introduced the bill to placate a pissed of constituent (or perhaps as warning to boards with unkind comments directed ar Biondi). Biondi probably never intended anything else to happen with the bill and it would die like 95% of all legislation introduced — thank god. Biondi being a republican in a democrat controlled legislature has little chance of moving a good bill let alone a stinker like this. Unfortunately, this bill blew up in his face because it’s insane stupid instead of the normal level of stupid we are used to in Trenton and people took notice. Watch for the bill to be withdrawn after the Office of Legislative Services pronounces the bill unconstitutional.

    Comment by Mister Surly — March 8, 2006 @ 7:01 pm

  5. This is as stupid as it gets

    Gov. Rounds Signs Bill Banning Most S.D. Abortions

    Comment by lj — March 8, 2006 @ 7:45 pm

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