The Estonian government today took a big step toward resolving the perceived problem of anonymous (and sometimes offensive) Internet comments. It's a combination of a basic quota of comments -- linked to your ID card -- and a pay-as-you-go scheme.
An executive-level decision by Prime Minister Andrus Ansip signed today at the government session will allow blog commenters to purchase vouchers that allow their holder to make a fixed number of comments each month -- without fear of legal backlash.
Estonians and legal residents will get up to 30 comments per month for free (you have to have an ID card). That will make you street-legal for commenting on anything in Estonia. Up to ten comments can be traded to other people for future comment rights (if, for example, you simply have less to say in a given month but you know that you'll have a lot of insight when an event such as Eurovision is held the following month).
As said, you can also buy additional comments. They cost 20 kroons each, about as much as a day of WiFi at some providers. You can get back credit for replies to people who reply to your comment.
I personally don't know quite what to make of this decision. Personally, I have long been suspicious of ID cards. And is free speech, then, something that is to be bought and sold in units, like public transit tickets?
Then again, the emissions trading system in the field of environmental law seems to be working OK. And isn't commenting often a form of hot air?
In any case, the system, which was designed by Rein Lang, will require that an actual website for buying the credits is set up soon. Pay-by-mobile-phone functionality is also promised.