The drastic measure would shatter a key cornerstone of the web and social media, withdrawing the cloak of anonymity which many gladly wear to spread mischief in ways that would not be possible were they forced to reveal their identity.
James believes that privileges have been abused so severely as to undermine the whole concept, necessitating new curbs in a raft of online safety measures designed to root out racist, sexist and violent messages.
A code of practice would set out the bounds of what is permissible, but it is conceded that the issues involved are challenging with no simple solutions. James said: “Some of the issues are very complex, they do revolve around liability which is a thorny issue and we don’t want therefore to rush it, but we are mindful of the need for action.”
No final decision has yet been taken on the proposals, which won’t be published until later in the year.
The UK government has previously pledged new laws to enhance internet safety.