SOVEREIGN COMMENTARY

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A thoughtful compilation and analysis of some important, but underreported and under-researched news stories, with particular focus on keeping the People informed about all Enemies, Foreign and Domestic.

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BY ALFRED WEST

(AKA THE SOVEREIGN EDITOR).
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    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    New Attack on First Amendment -- New Jersey Law Makers Opposed to Internet Privacy

    Have you ever heard of Peter J. Biondi? I hadn't until just the other day. Apparently, this man, in an act that has earned him an article on Wikipedia, has decided that anonymous commenting on the internet is a bad thing. He has sponsored a bill in the New Jersey legislature that 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."

    I have no idea what the effect of this law would be outside of New Jersey, but I cannot imagine this being binding on any ISP or internet user outside the state. I am concerned that some Big Brother type in the U.S. Congress might think that this is a good idea.

    I am opposed to any limitation on the freedom of speech. And yes, this is a limitation. Sure, making one identify one's self does not directly limit what one is officially allowed to say, but it does have a chilling effect. If someone very powerful were doing something wrong, do you think you would be more or less willing to be critical of them if they could easily find out who you were? You would probably be less willing. I think that the strength of discourse on the internet comes from anonymity. All of us are free to deal with each other as personalities, not as legal, real-world identities. As such, on the internet, we are much freer to advocate for unpopular positions than we might be in the real world where our relationships with our families, churches, and employers could be adversely affected by such advocacy. Anonymity on the internet provides, I think, the purest, truest, intellectual discourse. This law seeks to destroy that. The people of New Jersey should oppose this bill and kick Mr. Biondi out of office for daring to infringe upon their liberty.

    An article on this topic can be found online at: http://www.linuxelectrons.com/article.php/2006030616160937

    The text of this bill can be found online at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2006/Bills/A1500/1327_I1.HTM

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    * * *

    "If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

    --Samuel Adams
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