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Jersey Lawmaker: Let's Squelch What Makes Web Debate Great

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First, they play favorites with the smoking ban, now this. My home-state's lawmakers can be an entertaining bunch, till I remember I pay their salaries. So, the latest stupid bill to be proposed in Jersey comes to us from Assemblyman Peter Biondi, a Republican from Somerset.

According to a Star Ledger story on NJ.com, "Biondi's bill would require Internet service providers and interactive services such as NJ.com to publish, or at least solicit, the legal names and addresses of persons who post 'written messages on a public forum Web site.' Services failing to disclose identities of anyone 'who posts false or defamatory information' could be sued for damages and legal costs."

Hmmm…and all this time I thought Republicans were the only ones guarding against our freedom from excessive government intervention; at least, that's what all those FIRST NAME or PHONY NAME only callers on conservative talk radio keep tellin' me (yeah, I actually listen to that pap).

Needless to say, the Web freedom crew is up-in-arms over this one, even though it's too silly to be enacted. Even Biondi's backing off it now. Chief among Biondi's detractors is non other than Buzzmachine's Jeff Jarvis, who seems to be taking credit for Biondi's bill backlash against naughty forum posts. He, afterall, helped create the online media powerhouse that is NJ.com (and its affiliates across the country*), and, its well-populated forums. Writes Jarvis, "I am damned proud to have started the forums that caused New Jersey Assemblyman Peter Biondi to propose the stupidest legislation in memory (well, at least since Raritan, NJ, tried to outlaw cursing)."

Obviously, disregarding the freedom of speech and privacy implications, there would be so much logistical red-tape involved in actually enforcing such a law, it'd be a waste to spend any more time on. But, I'm sure that won't stop 'em….

*Shameless plug: My husband does graphic design work for Advance Internet.


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