A person doesn't like you, and spreads a rumor on the internet or cell phone that you (insert rumored bad deed here). Untrue, but you are embarrassed, worry about your parents, and now it gets worse. You hear others, maybe your friends believe the rumor and your life gets unbearable. What can you do when untruths are believed?
You decide to look up someone's personal information, find out numerous things online about them. You take the information, fudge the facts and create a false story. That person may be a public figure, perhaps an actor, a judge or someone in the military. You have harmed a person, and if caught will be charged and prosecuted.
You and other persons have a prejudice against a group. Whether based on appearance, creed, religion, political party or nationality, it doesn't matter. You find false information and create a report that this group has done something against the general public interest. You get others to follow your report and expand it. Soon this group is vilified by the public in your area, your state or your nation. These rumors are hard to stop. It harms that entire group.
You search on the internet for things that are not only illegal but also abhorrent. Child pornography comes to mind, but there are other things as well. You find others who share your predilection and continue this terrible behavior.
You create a false identity and use that false identity to lure people, possibly minors, into sexual encounters, slavery or other illegal acts.
All of these are evil and many are criminal.
Evil gossip and actions have long existed. A couple of older examples are Nazism, the Symbionese Liberation Army, The Ku Klux Klan or the Red Scare. Examples today are found in antifa, racial supremacists, gangs, terrorist organizations, some radical college organizations, the edges of society and even public schools. All of us have heard of or have seen these things happen. But one difference exists from an earlier time. In the past, these had to be spread by word of mouth or non-electronic mechanisms. Today these can be spread easily on cell phones or the internet by anonymous persons. Anyone can anonymously spew violence, hate and illegal acts. No one knows who you are, so you are free to do this.
Perhaps society would be better served if a distinction was made between legal freedom of speech and illegal internet use.
I am not saying to ban the internet, as courts have ruled the internet is a freedom in the Bill of Rights. Many things have constitutional protections. Even guns, press and religion. But even the freedom to own a gun comes with a requirement for a license, which must state who you really are. What if the following happened?
Every time you logged into any tablet, computer or phone, you had to use your real name, address, phone number—your real contact information. That contact information cannot be removed, erased or hidden. You would not have internet or cell phone access unless you provided your contact information. You would still have freedom to access the internet, but since you are known, perhaps our society would be better.
What do you think?