On the internet, nobody knows you’re an LWLB
Not surprisingly, a lot of bloggers are concerned about this report suggesting anyonymous blogging on political topics may be illegal. I had a few thoughts on this.
Closest to home, while I’m not anonymous, I welcome comments with or without anonymity. I don’t think there’s a problem here – any comments on this site are “authorised” by me, although I may not agree with them. As I’ve mentioned a few times, I reserve my right to delete or expurgate offensive comments, though there may be a delay for one reason or another.
Second, I don’t think it’s sensible to assume that the Internet is some kind of special free-fire zone where ordinary law does not apply. If a rule is right for print on paper, it’s probably right for text on a screen. If it’s wrong for the Internet, it’s probably wrong as applied to pamphlets.
Third, if a natural reading of the existing law is that it’s illegal to publish your political opinions under a pseudonym, the obvious question is: Why? I can’t see any possible justification for such a rule. It seems reasonable to prohibit dirty tricks like publishing something purporting to represent the views of your opponents, but the general tradition of writing as “Cicero” or “A modest member” is a well-established and honorable one. The idea that special rules are needed during election campaigns is an outdated relic, the kind of thing that used to give us a three-day blackout of electronic media.
Finally, where does Misha Schubert get off putting bloggers and spammers in the same headline? Maybe I should write something saying “state governments are considering uniform defamation laws, which would apply to journalists and spammers”.
fn1. That is, unless you believe the rumours that I’m really Imre Salusinszky posting under a false name and picture.