Senator Tries to Ban Internet Commenters

Illinois Sen. Ira Silverstein, who represents parts of Niles, Morton Grove and Skokie, introduced, then withdrew, a bill requiring websites to force anonymous commenters to reveal themselves on request, or get deleted.


On Feb. 13, Illinois Sen. Ira Silverstein introduced a bill aimed at limiting comments posted online, especially those negative in nature.

His Internet Posting Removal Act would require administrators of websites, social media or Internet forums to remove postings from anonymous commenters upon request, unless those anonymous commenters posted their true names, home addresses and IP addresses.

The complete text of the bill can be found here

It does not provide any specifics as to who can request the removal of an anonymous posting.

The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn reached Silverstein Thursday, and Silverstein told him he is pulling the bill, according to the Huffington Post.

Silverstein did not immediately return a phone call placed to him Monday.

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D S February 26, 2013 at 01:43 PM
This is how dictatorships start. Everyone forced to say who they are. Then someone says something against the current powers that be. The powers know who said it and punish them. Now everyone falls in line or gets punished.
grandpa February 26, 2013 at 02:34 PM
From George Orwell's 1984: The government attempts to control not only the speech and actions, but also the thoughts of its subjects, labelling unapproved thoughts with the term thoughtcrime or crimethink. It is the job of the Thought Police to uncover and punish thoughtcrime and thought-criminals. They use psychology and omnipresent surveillance (such as telescreens) to monitor, search, find and arrest members of society who could potentially challenge authority and status quo, even only by thought, hence the name Thought Police.They use terror and torture to achieve their ends. What a "Doubleplusgood" idea you have there Ira!
F February 26, 2013 at 03:20 PM
I happen to agree with Sen. Ira Silverstein . I own a third generation small family owned business and provide a great service to the community. I'm a chamber member in all of my locations along with being an A+ member with the BBB. I work hard to maintain a good reputation, however if one customer has a bad day and his/her appointment runs 5min late they blast you with negativity on the internet. People who hide behind computers are just bitter, sad, depressed people.
David Zornig February 26, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Strangely omitted from this article is the identification of Senator Silverstein's political party affiliation. If you look at today's Patch article about State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) regarding his proposed pension solution, it fully identifies him and his political party. It is traditionally done in every article involving a public servant to elected office. Allowing readers to better examine patterns or splits over issues within a party they may or may not support. A quick Wiki check also revealed that Sen. Silverstein is married to a Chicago Alderwoman. Making this attempted censorship story that much more interesting. Since being in the public eye is part of the family business. It's pretty sad that this Senator chose to waste his time on an issue so trivial. Only to abandon it anyway. Particularly since he is an attorney, and should have known such a bill would never stand up to legal scrutiny. Let alone ever get passed. Not to mention bringing undesired attention to him and his party.
BadGer February 26, 2013 at 03:34 PM
In essense, I agree that too many Internet commenters leave very hurtful, spurious comments that can make the Internet a vile place to post. People who have nothing to do but stir up trouble (trolls) have been the bane of the Internet since it started. However, there still must be the availability of anonymity on the Internet, and o do not think this bill would allow that in its present form. There are too many restrictions that can be used by companies like Comcast to benefit themselves and become the Police of the Internet
Wire Points February 26, 2013 at 04:13 PM
And this guy went to law school. Having formerly taught in a law school, I would want to beat any former student of mine over the head with a case book if one ever proposed such a thing.
bvklaw February 26, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Am still teachig in a law school. Will do it for you . . .
David Zornig February 26, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Plus, how did he think that a law proposed for the internet in Illinois, would EVER be enforceable on websites based outside of Illinois? How could such legislation ever be policed? It's as absurd as charging sales tax on eBay sales within your same state. People simply have an out of state friend bid on an item for them. On the remote chance that such crazy censorship was even ever passed, any affected companies would simply move their headquarters out of Illinois as a practical matter. He probably thought it would then apply to local news outlets, who in theory couldn't move. Guess what, the Trib now openly uses Facebook comments on their online articles. And how many millions of fake profiles are on that? Again, a complete waste of a sitting Senator's time.
kevin February 26, 2013 at 05:15 PM
For the motherbleeping win And I quote "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Pete February 26, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Well well atleast the scare tactic seems to be working . You would think there would be more comments on a subject like this.. Dont think for one moment that these people in higher power dont already know who we commenters are on here . Since ive been on patch ive noticed 2 people in higher power where i live dont talk to me any more , which im fine with. And my wife begs me to stay off of here since she has noticed a cop car sitting in front of our house a few times a week for the last couple months .
Don D. February 26, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Wow. I am stunned that a legislator would consider such a thing. Thanks to Kevin for reminding us. Wow. And Fred? Curious you won't use your full name. Good luck with that hypocrisy thing.
Seymour J. Schwartz February 26, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Two intriguing questions from this story are: 1. What was the reasoning behind Senator Silverstein's bill? 2. Why did he withdraw it? One can surmise all sorts of answers but only he can be the definitive source. I can think of no reasonable reason for the proposed bill. The great danger that can lead us down a slippery slope is it is censorship of public communication. There are many legitimate reasons why one wishes to be anonymous in their postings. There is nothing to fear in the open market place by freedom in the expression of one's ideas and thoughts. This is the very foundation of a free society. The obverse is suppression, slavery, and oppression. Mr. Silverstein, your reputation is on the line unless you give a reasonable explanation for your behavior. Do you support a free society or do you advocate a 1984 slavish, closed, and unfree society? Privately owned media for communication traditionally are self-censoring with a line being drawn as well as regulating laws that limit speech both written, oral and symbolic to certain standards regarding the boundaries of community values and standards. Attribution of sources is not a community standard anywhere I know unless the organization promotes censorship and tightly controlled speech. The ball is in your court Mr. Silverstein and the noose is getting tighter by the minute.
Adam Turetzky February 26, 2013 at 08:34 PM
I guess he missed all of the other times this has been tried and failed citing previous Supreme Court rulings. https://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity
PAuul February 26, 2013 at 09:13 PM
I feel for ya FRED but too bad thats the cost of owning a business! you have the right to respond so don't sweat it unless your guilty or hiding something!
Don D. February 26, 2013 at 09:23 PM
I just can't leave this alone. A quick search on the net (anonymously, of course) reveals this piece (partial): The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that “anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse,” and that this is an idea that’s been upheld by the Supreme Court. They cite a particular decision (McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 1995): Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views…Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority…It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation…at the hand of an intolerant society. Here is the source: http://www.webpronews.com/meet-the-internet-posting-removal-act-an-illinois-bill-thatll-make-your-head-spin-2013-02
Wire Points February 26, 2013 at 09:41 PM
The same Senator Silverstein has now also proposed a bill to boot your car if you fail to pay a bill -- any bill -- owed to the government. On as little as 24 hour's notice. Fail to pay your water bill, for example, car gets booted! http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130226/BLOGS02/130229846/bill-would-let-city-boot-cars-for-unpaid-bills The nuts are running the asylum.
George Slefo (Editor) February 26, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Thank you for the link. We're trying to get in touch with the senator for some clarification. We'll also have a story tomorrow morning. Best, George
kevin February 26, 2013 at 10:52 PM
remember people, the power is ours, vote these morons out. Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Obviously this moron thinks he's sly, I will not be voting for him.
Seymour J. Schwartz February 27, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Kevin, You are all wrong. People DO HAVE THE POWER. The people are MORONS because they vote these MORONS into office. They rarely vote them out. The elected officials are YOU THE PEOPLE. They are your neighbors, friends, relatives, school mates, same church members, etc. etc. etc. Elected officials are not from Mars. They are pretty much like the rest of the public. They grew up among the rest of society. They went to your schools, churches, clubs, etc. just like the rest of us. This means some are good, honest, conscientious, and ethical. Just like some of your neighbors. This also means some are bad, dishonest, not conscientious, and unethical. Just like some of your neighbors. (speaking metaphorically, of course). Today, the American public gives Congress one of their lowest ratings of approval in my memory. And as a political scientist emeritus at universities for 35 years, I studied and taught this so my memory goes way back. Yet, it is a truism that when people think politicians or elected officials are morons, most think that THEIR representative is not. Research demonstrates this time and again. So who is really the moron? This is more a commentary on us (metaphorically) than on them. Sad but true!
Procrustes' Foil February 27, 2013 at 11:06 AM
Thank you, Seymour. I thoroughly agree with you and have been saying the same for many years. Americans are uninformed and ignorant and, thus, are easily persuaded to vote for morons. Our form of government requires an educated, informed citizenry who must diligently collect information about issues. Americans are too lazy to do this. It's much easier to get information from a 20-second sound bite.
CK February 27, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Another nanny-state meddler, male part of a husband-wife political union which derives salaries from being a senator ($67,836/yr) plus $132/per diem (that means what extra $$$ he can claim daily while struggling in Springfield thinking up new laws) and from being a Chicago alderman (min. $104,101) creating a whopping $171,937 for such humble dedication to public service and to bank deposits. And don't forget pensions, insurance and so forth. We won't need a tag day to raise cash to help them survive, Ira has a legal practice. Ah, me o'my! What dedication. Two national treasures! Ain't we lucky to have them??? At a time when there are countless identity violations on the web, brainiac Ira wants exact names available...Yeah, Ira! Available to stalkers and loonies and angry politicians who could now get a direct address to a person's residences and phone! Time to create some retirements.
CK February 27, 2013 at 02:14 PM
@SJS With astute comments like yours, poor wittle Silverstein might become unhappy...maybe on March 17th his supporters will dolefully be singing "When Ira's Eyes are Crying."
CK February 27, 2013 at 02:28 PM
I couldn't find any bill he sponsored which would LOWER TAXES. Go to his state web site and see his other computer bill which permits on-line registration to vote http://ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=85&GA=98&DocTypeId=SB&DocNum=1707&GAID=12&LegID=72596&SpecSess=&Session= . What a great idea for the "party leaders" to create a new form of ghost voter. It could become an on-line cemetery list!
Jennifer February 27, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Why is it that we can't get rid of these career rats? I don't understand these progressives. I don't want someone to tell me what to do. Leave me alone!
Seymour J. Schwartz February 27, 2013 at 08:23 PM
Procrustes' Foil, You are so correct that Americans are uninformed, ignorant and are easily persuaded to vote for morons. An educated and informed citizenry is an absolute requirement for any democratic citizenry according to all democratic theory. Throughout the ancient world beginning with the Greek philosophers, democracy was decried as stupid and dangerous because it was felt that the masses were ignorant and therefore incapable of making intelligent and wise decisions. I would like to think otherwise; they are capable of enlightenment. Democracy is a very new political type of system & while it is the desired system in much of the world, it has a very mixed record of success. Our society does a very poor job in inculcating what are the necessary responsibilities of the public to make democracy work. Schools are one of the most important transmitters of our cultural values. The need exists to teach responsibilities and their desirability to students in every grade of the education. Not just history and tests but the desirable behavior of a good citizen. Parents need to be good role models for their children to reinforce those values by their own civic involvement and dicuss in an informed way with their children about public issues. By not making this a priority in our culture and just giving lip service to it, citizen ignorance instead enables them to unwittingly behave in ways that are destructive to a democracy.
Wire Points February 27, 2013 at 09:42 PM
I like the comments here so much I've read them twice. So nice to see there are still folks out there who understand.
Jac Charlier February 28, 2013 at 01:33 AM
All in the family, only this is no comedy. An empire being built at the public's expense. We have others doing the same thing too, some of which have done it for 50, 70 even 100+ years.
Jennifer February 28, 2013 at 02:17 AM
Poor Fred!! You want to be an A+ member of the BBB. Do you care about the people you serve? I don't see where you are perfect? Don't you know that is the cost of doing business.I don't hide behind my computer and I am not sad or depressed but I do have this to ask; You didn't list the name of your business so I don't make the mistake of patronizing your business. I really wonder about people like you who look down their snoot at their customers. Time you grow up!!
Shawn February 28, 2013 at 02:33 PM
This guy needs to be put in a rubber room.
smallbizman March 01, 2013 at 02:27 PM
As a business owner i know of what you speak.You can't always please everyone and some people can't be pleased at all.But it is there right to speak out if they are not happy with the service or treatment.Sen Silverstein took an oath to uphold the constitution.But because somebody said something bad about him he's mad.Grow up you wimp.So here we are again if the Senator doesn't like it take everyone's right to free speech away.Senator time for you to retire.If someone slanders you,Get a lawyer and defend your rep.Fred, Our family business has been around 56yrs and let tell you sometimes it is better to just let it go.Some people are just to hard to please.You do your best and be fair.That's all you can do.


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