Online comments, despite being just words, can be malicious and hurtful, so much so that we’ve seen how internet trolls have driven several celebrities off social media platforms. It is unclear if these kinds of malicious comments will ever go away, but over in Austria, the country is looking to do something about it.
The government has drafted a law that would essentially make it illegal to leave comments on websites anonymously. This essentially would require users to register their real names and addresses when making online comments, which presumably would hold internet users more accountable to the things that they say online.
You could still use public nicknames, but since they are now registered, it makes it easier to trace malicious comments back to their owners. If the law were to come to pass, it will only apply to websites that have more than 100,000 registered users, or who make more than €500,000 per year or receive press subsidies larger than €50,000.
There are some concerns about this law, namely how some groups could take advantage of it, such as hate groups that might not have as big of a user base, thus preventing the law from having any effect on them. There is also the issue of privacy since an address is required, which means that there will be more data to be mined should hackers ever breach a website. In any case, if passed, the law is expected to take effect in 2020.