February 10, 2006

Bush Signs Law Criminalizing Annoying Comments on the Internet

Posted by Eric Jaffa
Monday January 09th 2006, 2:48 pm
Filed under: Government, Free Speech?, Courts

Is being annoying a crime?

Under a law recently signed by George W. Bush, yes. When one is intentionally annoying on the internet, anonymously.

Declan McCullagh of CNET describes a rotten new law:

Buried deep in the new law is Sec. 113, an innocuously titled bit called “Preventing Cyberstalking.” It rewrites existing telephone harassment law to prohibit anyone from using the Internet “without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy.”

Punishment is up to two years in prison.

I’m not expecting anyone who engages in commonplace internet behavior to be prosecuted under this law anytime soon.

The problem is that federal authorities can exploit this law to find out anyone’s identity, by claiming something he or she posted anonymously is annoying and may have broken this law.

Bye, bye to being anonymous when someone in federal law enforcement wants to know who you are.

We have Republican Senator Arlen Specter to blame for this infringment on our constitutional right to speak anonymously.

Update: Jeff Jarvis writes “98.5% of blog comments now illegal.” Jarvis then bashes the the “PC left” and the “religious right” for opposing free speech, wihout telling his readers that this statute comes from Arlen Specter, who belongs to neither group. Specter is a regular Republican Senator.

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