New Jersey Bill Would Stop Anonymous Blog Comments and Forums

Posted on March 7, 2006

A new New Jersey bill seeks to stop anonymous posts on blogs and forums. The synopsis for the bill says, "makes certain operators of interactive computer services and Internet service providers liable to persons injured by false or defamatory messages posted on public forum websites." And here is a statement about the bill.
This bill would require an operator of any interactive computer service or an Internet service provider to establish, maintain and enforce a policy requiring an information content provider who posts messages on a public forum website either to be identified by legal name and address or to register a legal name and address with the operator or provider prior to posting messages on a public forum website.

The bill requires an operator of an interactive computer service or an Internet service provider to 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.

In addition, the bill makes any operator or Internet service provider liable for compensatory and punitive damages as well as costs of a law suit filed by a person damaged by the posting of such messages if the operator or Internet service provider fails to establish, maintain and enforce the policy required by section 2 of the bill.
Bloggers are not going to want to have to collect the name and address of everyone who posts a comment on their blog and they shouldn't have to. The people coming up with these kinds of bills don't seem very concerned about people's privacy either. Hopefully, New Jersey will not pass this bill. The bill sounds similar to the anti trolling law but the language in the New Jersey bill is more clearly targeted at anonymous comments and forum posts. We wish the lawmakers would be more like the clever Delaware Chief Justice who said, "plaintiffs harmed by a blog have an instant remedy available: blogging themselves."