Do we need to start using our legal names? January 9, 2006 9:34 AM   Subscribe

In light of this new law, do you suppose having our real names (which are optional) in our profiles enough, or would it be prudent to allow users to change their aliases into their real names?
posted by crunchland to Etiquette/Policy at 9:34 AM (49 comments total)

Agreed, it might (might) be easier to avoid being annoying in what we write here, but considering the ambiguity of the word "annoying," it might be more difficult than it sounds.
posted by crunchland at 9:38 AM on January 9, 2006


There are assholes on this site who will use your real name as a way to harass you. My advice is not to use your real name. The new law is unconstitutional at best and unenforceable at worst.
posted by Rothko at 9:40 AM on January 9, 2006


You have to take anything Declan McCullagh says with a heaping tablespoon of salt, he kind of stretches the truth to fit his libertarian angle on everything. So at this point I consider the interpretation of the new law to be mostly fueled by hysteria and will wait until something concrete comes out of it before doing anything.

In the unlikely event that this does have real world consequences, I'll talk to my lawyer to figure out what the absolute least I can to comply and get away with it (and notify everyone well in advance).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:46 AM on January 9, 2006


Oh my god. We're all going to jail.
posted by xmutex at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2006

"Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
Where does it define "identity?" This is my identity. It's one of my pen names, but it is as good a way to identify me as any other way...be it social security number, familiy nickname, FBI file number, or that series of words on my birth certificate.

I doubt this applies here. I am not anonymous on metafilter. Mathowie can easily contact me. And never have I intended to "annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person."

I don't know about those who log in using anonymous proxies.
posted by ?! at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2006


There is a difference between the USA and the world.
posted by veedubya at 10:01 AM on January 9, 2006


veedubya: There is indeed, but since Metafilter is located in the United States, United States law and not the laws of, say, Angola, apply.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 10:05 AM on January 9, 2006


Cap'n, so who's going to be extraditing us, Matt or the Feds?
posted by veedubya at 10:10 AM on January 9, 2006


One wonders at what point #1 decided to retain the services of an attorney since running this site could be seen as a huge liability.... ;)
posted by Lynsey at 10:12 AM on January 9, 2006


Aha! I am so set!
posted by nathan_teske at 10:15 AM on January 9, 2006


<obligatory disclaimer>This is NOT legal advice. I am NOT your lawyer. If you are concerned about this new bill, talk to YOUR lawyer.</obligatory disclaimer>

You have to look very carefully at Section 113 of the new Act to see how it amends the existing Communication Act. The relevant portion of the Act, section 223, as it exists prior to this amendment, is available here. The categories of prohibited conduct are listed in subsections (a) through (d), none of which are modified by Section 113. Instead, the law modifies the definitions subsection. Currently, section 223(h) of the Act restricts the meaning of "telecommunications device" as follows:
(1) The use of the term “telecommunications device” in this section—
(A) shall not impose new obligations on broadcasting station licensees and cable operators covered by obscenity and indecency provisions elsewhere in this chapter; and
(B) does not include an interactive computer service.
The term "interactive computer service," in turn, has the meaning provided in section 230 (f)(2). That section defines "interactive computer service" as "any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions." I'd argue that MetaFilter is such an "interactive computer service."

Section 113 would add a new paragraph to 223(h)(1), further modifying "telecommunications device:"
`(C) in the case of subparagraph (C) of subsection (a)(1), includes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet (as such term is defined in section 1104 of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (47 U.S.C. 151 note)).'.
At first glance this appears to conflict with the exception for interactive computer services. However, Section 113 also has a limiting clause:
(b) Rule of Construction- This section and the amendment made by this section may not be construed to affect the meaning given the term 'telecommunications device' in section 223(h)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934, as in effect before the date of the enactment of this section.
In other words, Section does not remove the existing restrictions on the definition of "telecommunications device" already in place in the Communications Act. The current Act does not apply section 223 to "interactive computer services," and H.R. 3402 does nothing to change that. So, how does the amendment in Section 113 affect the definition of "telecommunications device?" I'd bet it's intended to apply to harassment via email, but it's hard to tell.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:23 AM on January 9, 2006


Could Matt be charged with expediting a crime if some non-US anonymous Mefite harassed someone here? Matt of course is not anonymous himself.
posted by biffa at 10:25 AM on January 9, 2006


Argh! You are all so goddamn annoying!
posted by Plutor at 10:28 AM on January 9, 2006


In fact, now that I think about it, if I were arguing for a limited interpretation of Section 113, I'd argue that it was intended only to include VOIP in the definition of telecommunications, given that it modifies the section that previously applied to stalking by telephone.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:43 AM on January 9, 2006


I think a chunk of the sky just fell on my head.
posted by caddis at 10:45 AM on January 9, 2006


I think we can safely ignore this. The possibility that Internet users will get in trouble for annoying people (as opposed to death threats or other actionable content, which we already prohibit) in on-line forums is zero. And the idea that using an alias rather than your real name would make it worse is silly.

Someone in Congress has their head up there ass. Such is life. If the real intent was to prohibit anonymous Internet use it will take something much more robust that this is make that happen.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:01 AM on January 9, 2006


Is the water gettting a little warm in here, or is just me?

/ribbit
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:10 AM on January 9, 2006


This sounds a lot like my high school coach telling me that if I didn't run the mile, I'd have to run the mile again.

Unless the FBI is going to bother tracking you down - being anonymous on the internet is precisely what will keep you safe from prosecution.
posted by odinsdream at 11:11 AM on January 9, 2006


Look, this is not a big deal. Just make it clear that your posts are written without the intent to annoy. Problem solved.

The content of this post is not intended to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass.
posted by Galvatron at 11:12 AM on January 9, 2006


That's a great idea. Let's also put our social security numbers in our profiles along with our real names and latitude / longitude coordinates.
posted by whir at 11:37 AM on January 9, 2006


We're all going to jail.

then instead of usernames we'll have prison bitch names
posted by matteo at 11:38 AM on January 9, 2006


Don't think of it as jail, think of it as a meet without beer.
posted by Cranberry at 11:43 AM on January 9, 2006


neener.

If Monju sez it's all right...
posted by klangklangston at 12:12 PM on January 9, 2006


"That's a great idea. Let's also put our social security numbers in our profiles along with our real names and latitude / longitude coordinates."

What's Darren Hoyt's SSN?
posted by klangklangston at 12:13 PM on January 9, 2006


then instead of usernames we'll have prison bitch names

I have dibs on "Spanky McSnitch"
posted by Rothko at 12:16 PM on January 9, 2006


I'm pretty sure the law would only apply to things that annoy matt, not the rest of us. So if we annoy Matt, then he could press charges, but I can't press charges just because I see something on a web page that buggs me.

I think it's basically supposed to ban crank calling over VoIP.
posted by delmoi at 12:19 PM on January 9, 2006


Oh my god. We're all going to jail.

Now that would be the ultimate meetup. Imagine the shoutouts.
posted by orange swan at 12:25 PM on January 9, 2006


So if we annoy Matt, then he could press charges, but I can't press charges just because I see something on a web page that buggs me.

quonsar is fucked.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:26 PM on January 9, 2006


Who wants to be my cellmate?
posted by orange swan at 12:27 PM on January 9, 2006


I have dibs on "Spanky McSnitch"

I got "Ben Dover".
posted by JeffK at 12:33 PM on January 9, 2006


I firmly object to this line of investigation.

Sincerely,
Hubert Waddlesworth McStupid III
posted by blue_beetle at 12:35 PM on January 9, 2006


*begins banging tin cup on table*
posted by languagehat at 12:36 PM on January 9, 2006


shut the fuck up, dave.
posted by quonsar at 12:42 PM on January 9, 2006


quonsar is fucked.

*lights cigarette*
posted by quonsar at 12:44 PM on January 9, 2006


Screw all you guys: I'LL TALK IF I CAN CUT A DEAL
posted by dflemingdotorg at 12:44 PM on January 9, 2006


[dons orange jumpsuit, admires self in mirror]
posted by orange swan at 12:56 PM on January 9, 2006


I think I spot a MeFigitive.
posted by Firas at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2006


You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see!
posted by languagehat at 1:25 PM on January 9, 2006


hamburgler
posted by taz at 2:01 PM on January 9, 2006


ha ha haaaa!. you're all going to jail. my secret plan bears fruit at last.

(and what matt said about declan - see previous fuss about the us govt using - wait for this - session cookies, oh yes, indeedy, the terribleness of it all)
posted by andrew cooke at 2:14 PM on January 9, 2006


I'm leaning towards 'Angry McPantsload', this morning.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:12 PM on January 9, 2006


Xanax, anyone?
posted by Devils Slide at 3:38 PM on January 9, 2006


Wait, did matteo and Rothko just make prison anal rape references and get away with it?
posted by darukaru at 5:48 PM on January 9, 2006


Or is this one of those reclaiming the words things?
posted by darukaru at 5:49 PM on January 9, 2006


You first, Kevin.
posted by crunchland at 6:28 PM on January 9, 2006


That's a great idea. Let's also put our social security numbers in our profiles along with our real names and latitude / longitude coordinates.

Don't forget to include your mother's maiden name.
posted by ericb at 9:21 AM on January 10, 2006


I'm going with Uwana M'Diq.
posted by mystyk at 1:07 PM on January 10, 2006


that your prison bitch name? very pretty.
i'm gonna buy me a uniform and some keys.
oh, how power corrupts.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:22 PM on January 10, 2006


This is the sort of law that should be ignored. And broken. Often and aggressively. That's how bad laws die.
posted by Decani at 7:04 AM on January 11, 2006


« Older Why don't you put your email address in your...   |   People are derailing this perfectly decent... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments