State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) has filed legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly protecting the privacy rights of readers who choose to comment on online news articles. Senate Bill 106 shields news organizations or other individuals who post news online from having to reveal any identifying information about readers who post comments.
“This legislation will safeguard the free and open exchange of ideas," said Sen. Kelsey. “Political discourse should be encouraged-- not discouraged through fishing expeditions by over-zealous lawyers.”
The legislation comes after the Shelby County Commission filed a subpoena in federal court asking for the identities of all online commenters in the Memphis Commercial Appeal's stories about suburban plans to create their own school districts. A federal judge later denied that request.
"This issue will come up again and needs to be clarified in Tennessee law," continued Sen. Kelsey. "News organizations themselves should determine how much identifying information of online commenters to make public."