The Courier-News
Serving Central Jersey since 1884

November 23, 1998         Page A-11

Borough can't compete with

Flemington Councilman Joey Novick was unnecessarily heavy-handed - and on shaky legal ground to boot - in pressuring a volunteer webmaster to shut down her Internet page devoted to the historic borough's activities and attractions.

Annick Elzière had a notice on her page indicating that it was not the official borough web page. But Novick found some minor inaccuracies on Elziere's page and urged Borough Attorney Peter Buchsbaum to direct threatening noises at her.

Elzière controls the website address because she paid to register it. But, Buchsbaum notwithstanding, no one automatically "owns" official names on the Internet. Proof?  There is a soft porn web page, that the White House in Washington, D.C. can neither shut down nor force to change its name.

If Flemington's lawyer had done a little checking first, he and Novick might have decided to approach Elzière about becoming the borough's official webmaster. That would have been a nice, legal, resolution of the conflict.

Instead, they trampled on the First Amendment and acted like a couple of clumsy cybercops. They owe Elzière an apology - and a refund of her site registration fee.