January 9, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Perspective: Create an e-annoyance, go to jail

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Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.

It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.

This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.

"The use of the word 'annoy' is particularly problematic," says Marv Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "What's annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else."

It's illegal to annoy

A new federal law states that when you annoy someone on the Internet, you must disclose your identity. Here's the relevant language.

"Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

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."

To grease the rails for this idea, Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, and the section's other sponsors slipped it into an unrelated, must-pass bill to fund the Department of Justice. The plan: to make it politically infeasible for politicians to oppose the measure.

The tactic worked. The bill cleared the House of Representatives by voice vote, and the Senate unanimously approved it Dec. 16.

There's an interesting side note. An earlier version that the House approved in September had radically different wording. It was reasonable by comparison, and criminalized only using an "interactive computer service" to cause someone "substantial emotional harm."

That kind of prohibition might make sense. But why should merely annoying someone be illegal?

There are perfectly legitimate reasons to set up a Web site or write something incendiary without telling everyone exactly who you are.

A law meant to annoy?
FAQ: The new 'annoy' law explained
A practical guide to the new federal law that aims to outlaw certain types of annoying Web sites and e-mail.

Think about it: A woman fired by a manager who demanded sexual favors wants to blog about it without divulging her full name. An aspiring pundit hopes to set up the next Suck.com. A frustrated citizen wants to send e-mail describing corruption in local government without worrying about reprisals.

In each of those three cases, someone's probably going to be annoyed. That's enough to make the action a crime. (The Justice Department won't file charges in every case, of course, but trusting prosecutorial discretion is hardly reassuring.)

Clinton Fein, a San Francisco resident who runs the Annoy.com site, says a feature permitting visitors to send obnoxious and profane postcards through e-mail could be imperiled.

"Who decides what's annoying? That's the ultimate question," Fein said. He added: "If you send an annoying message via the United States Post Office, do you have to reveal your identity?"

Fein once sued to overturn part of the Communications Decency Act that outlawed transmitting indecent material "with intent to annoy." But the courts ruled the law applied only to obscene material, so Annoy.com didn't have to worry.

"I'm certainly not going to close the site down," Fein said on Friday. "I would fight it on First Amendment grounds."

He's right. Our esteemed politicians can't seem to grasp this simple point, but the First Amendment protects our right to write something that annoys someone else.

It even shields our right to do it anonymously. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas defended this principle magnificently in a 1995 case involving an Ohio woman who was punished for distributing anonymous political pamphlets.

If President Bush truly believed in the principle of limited government (it is in his official bio), he'd realize that the law he signed cannot be squared with the Constitution he swore to uphold.

And then he'd repeat what President Clinton did a decade ago when he felt compelled to sign a massive telecommunications law. Clinton realized that the section of the law punishing abortion-related material on the Internet was unconstitutional, and he directed the Justice Department not to enforce it.

Bush has the chance to show his respect for what he calls Americans' personal freedoms. Now we'll see if the president rises to the occasion.

Declan McCullagh is CNET News.com's chief political correspondent. He spent more than a decade in Washington, D.C., chronicling the busy intersection between technology and politics. Previously, he was the Washington bureau chief for Wired News, and a reporter for Time.com, Time magazine and HotWired. McCullagh has taught journalism at American University and been an adjunct professor at Case Western University.

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Articles wrong presumption....
The article starts with the presumption that GWB gives a damn about personal freedoms or the constitutional rights therein. The Patriot Act is a HUGE contitutional avoidance device, the prisons, torture and circumventing of the Geneva Convention. The 'appointing' of parties when congress is at break without thier input. This is just another tool to harrass/sue your opponents into submission if you are lucky enough to be rich..
Posted by Vetter83 (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What the...
was there a link to this story from moveon.org?

If you want you could just rewrite your entire post as:
<Worthless talking point> * 5
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
No Points
Have you considered laying your political bias and irrational hatred of the President to rest and focusing on the technical side of the article? Your political points are flat worthless:

the prisons: what about them? Bad behavior is being punished.

torture: Name one single instance of confirmed torture

Geneva Convention: Name one single instance of geneva convention crimes. -Terrorists are not covered under this document.

I really hate it when CNet lets these political moonbats write articles about technology. News.Com should not be a personal political vent for the authors. It is irresponsible and immature.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
What baloney
So if Person A on AOL sets up a nickname, for example, "SoccerRef", and then says something that person B doesn't like, he is guilty of a federal offense? Ah yes, the well known conservative penchant for small government and getting the government out of your lives. This is baloney and conservatives don't have a clue about what the important issues are.
Posted by dj_paige (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Unenforceable or Worthless
AOL would be exempt on one basis: the article states that you have to disclose your true identity. This is somewhat ambiguous but I would take that to mean any identity, name or handle that uniquely identifies you as a person. Since an AOL handle can easily be traced to a person, address, and credit card, AOL holders are safe.

Where I see trouble is enforcing this and discovering who "anonymous" is. If I go find a public wireless access point (aka coffee house), create a dummy email, and procede to spam the White House with thousands of "Anonymous" emails, whom do they stop? Stop the email providers? Not likely. Stop free wireless Internet access? Good luck. (Might as well turn off the Internet in either case!) If you can't find "anonymous", how to you stop "anonymous"?

If someone half-knows what they are doing, this "law" is unenforceable. As for the remainder of the public, this "law" is worthless.

THIS IS PROOF LAWMAKERS HAVE NO IDEA HOW TECHNOLOGY WORKS. Obviously Sen. Arlen Specter and her confederates need to update their technology concepts or fire their advisors or both!
Posted by plattbob3 (3 comments )
Link Flag
no baloney
Please clear up the meaning of the word Annoy with a good dictionary. The scenario you mention does not qualify as annoy.

See <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.answers.com/annoy" target="_newWindow">http://www.answers.com/annoy</a>

The law only requires that you identify yourself, it does not prevent you from annoying someone.

No different than the real world. Lets say someone who is mad at you, comes to your front door every day and irritates you by saying something ridiculous or false about you. Would you report that person to the local authorities and have him off your back? That is exactly what this law will allow you to do on the internet as well. It helps you, to identify someone who annoys you.

Please before replying to my post, please clear up the word Annoy in a good dictionary.

Posted by vsankar (6 comments )
Link Flag
The law is necessary because
How else is a President going to rule the world if he don't have laws such as this one on the books?
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Because u annoi m3
i demand taht teh comnent above bi removeed with in 24 huors or mai 1337 groop of lawvyers w1ll bi at ur dorstep kthxbye

Posted by georgybushy (1 comment )
Link Flag
Suprise suprise
Another story... another (lame) attempt to slam Republicans and the administration. Those tricky republicans forcing all of those upstanding democrats to vote for a bill that will crush our civil liberties!
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's been like this as long as I can remember
Didn't you know that between the republicans and democrats, the republican are the guns of the outfit?
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
Actually, I think this is those tricky manipulative jerks in congress.

"How do you tell if a politician is lying? His mouth is moving."
Posted by t3knomanser (5 comments )
Link Flag
Why Hello There...
I find your post annoying and offensive.
I demand your full name, address, and social security number.
If you don't comply I will report your post to the authorities. Although they probably already know about it.
Posted by SC123 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Two faces of the same head
There are Liberty-Loving Americans, and then, there are Democrats and Republicans.
Posted by johnkeller2004 (9 comments )
Link Flag
You're a moron!
Being anti-Bush in no way makes one pro-democrate. It's morons
like you that allow for our massive government to continue to grow
without bound. Governments, US in particular, are the biggest
threat against humanity.

Bush lies!
Posted by rbannon (96 comments )
Link Flag
Republican Intent...
The article does not attempt to conclude the intent behind this law was missguided. It points out that the statute is open to abuses. Now the good news is, as long as you identify yourself you can post anything you want. The bad news is that if you try to point something out while concealing your identity in any way you have broken the law and can spend 2 years in jail for it.

This article also does not point out blame on Republicans. It just so happens that the president has to sign or veto every law, that's his job in case you forgot.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
The *intent* of the bill is probably a good one - to prevent cyberstalking and threatening/harassing internet messages. Having been the victim of a stalker myself, I can tell you, it's no fun.

The bill, however, is written sloppily, vaguely, and ends up infringing the rights of ordinary Americans rather than narrowly targeting a definable set of vicious criminal actions.

The Republicans, by the way, talk a great game about Freedom but sure have a lousy recent track record in defending it.
Posted by kim&4catz (15 comments )
Link Flag
I can't find it
Where in the bill does it say this? I'm searching the final text online on the Library of Congress Thomas database, and I'm looking at Section 113, but I can't find the language quoted in the article anywhere. I suspect the article is in error.
Posted by jgmilles (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's not in error
They ammended an old law. The original is available at: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode47/usc_sec_47_00000223----000-.html" target="_newWindow">http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode47/usc_sec_47_00000223----000-.html</a>

"any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person;"
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
Neither can I
I'm with you - I pulled up both versions of the bill and did search for "annoy" and "internet." Nothing found on the former, and reading through the results for the latter only turned up definitions of "personal information" and the uses thereof.

HOWEVER, I wonder whether the term "annoy" and the associated language might only be found in the previously passed act, with this act merely amending it to include items published on the internet.

(In particular, look at section 113. I don't have the time to search for that right now, but may do so later.)
Posted by TeslaAldrich (3 comments )
Link Flag
I'm annoyed!
Mr. McCullagh, is that your real name? I only ask because your article really annoyed me. Was that your intention?
Posted by alphtoo (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
is this a troublesome post? is it being directed at YOU? is it disturbing soley YOU? you are twisting the word annoy out of context just to be facetious, now it annoys me that people like you repeatedly speak in this manner just to try and be funny, i'm using the word annoy in its proper context because this form of speech is a repeated act, but i am not able to say it annoys me soley because it exists, which gives me no right to claim that your post is a federal offense, and by extension of this situation you are not allowed to claim this blog is a federal offense.

"you sir are an idiot. you sir are an idiot, you sir are an idiot, and i am your father." now, looking at that quote, it may annoy you that i call you an idiot, and i am identifying myself as your father, which in my experience a father would not call his son that (although you may be from an exceptional family) by falsely identifying myself as your father and then blatently annoying you, you may call this a federal offense.

I hope this post has been informative as well as annoying.
you suck.
Posted by Orincarnia (1 comment )
Link Flag
Sounds reminiscent of a GA state law fiasco
Georgia passed a state law in the mid-90s requiring your email address to contain your real name. Most folks didn't even know it was on the books, until it was finally struck down with some fanfare about two years later.
Posted by C.Schroeder (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Georgia state law
Good point. I should have mentioned that in my column. I covered the oral arguments in that case in Atlanta, and the subsequent ruling in 1997 is covered here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.well.com/user/declan/nym/georgia.0797.txt" target="_newWindow">http://www.well.com/user/declan/nym/georgia.0797.txt</a>
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
ok so im glad you found it but could you post the link so everyone can read the full text?
Posted by libertaspraesidium (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Al Qaeda isn't only 'sack over head'
Much annoyance can be avoided by just insisting on real identities. When a person in FL mis-interpreted a general news posting of mine, she went over the edge trying to retaliate. Only a local telephone call to her house-trailer in a park stopped the harassment. Many people act unsocial in the cover of darkness.
Posted by gthurman (67 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dear George W. Bush,
You smell like bologna and have a hyena head.

Posted by Bob_Barker (167 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Anonymous Bob Barker
Was that supposed to annoy GW :).
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
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Two words for ya...

Thank God I didn't vote for this *******. No one can blame me for a stupid president.

By the Way... Did I mention my name is Ty Tyson? :b
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
who's annoying WHO????
First of all, ...news like THAT, is annoying to me. (Does this mean that the article is in violation of the new law)?

Secondly, there are WAY to many people with WAY too much free time on their hands, doing such jerky things as passing assinine legislation like this. (Did I annoy someone by saying that)?.....(TOO BAD)!!

Thirdly, While not everything that is: spoken, printed, typed &#38; posted, or broadcast, may be: polite, politically correct, in good taste, etc;
we are still guaranteed FREEDOM of SPEECH &#38; EXPRESSION, whether such words "annoy" someone or not. There are TOO many OVERLY sensitive people out there, getting all bent out of shape over TOO MANY TRIVIAL things, these days,.....GET A LIFE!!

On top of it all, whether our right to free speech and expression is sanctioned by the U.S. Constitution or NOT,.....speech, thought &#38; expression are inherent HUMAN abilities, and it is only a smug, ARROGANT Government (or a tyrannical one) that would dare believe they could legislate these human processes.

This law is one example of how some lawmakers (and the chief law-signer himself) have their collective heads irreversibly stuck up in a place where the sun never shines and where they love to hear the echo of their own voices.

Lastly,....I must have annoyed SOMEONE, with what I have said, but I don't give a rat's a$$, and I must have violated this new law, because in addition to possibly annoying someone, I am also doing it anonomously!
Posted by glooface (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dead man walking....
Posted by VvBrimStonevV (3 comments )
Link Flag
Imprisoning Dissidents...
Now all Bush has to say is that our blog entries, etc...'annoy' him, and we're subject to imprisonment. His wish come true!

<a href="http://badbadpoet.blogspot.com/">cat</a>
Posted by catnapping (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This law is not necessary. There are other ways to skin a cat.
Bush don't have to say that. All he has to do is deem you a terrorist and that will be all she wrote!
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
Not really....
It has to be made anonymous to prosecute, which my blog is not anonymous at all. I use my real name and all! Besides that, who really cares what I think? I'm nobody. :P If someone wants to sue me though, they'll have a hard time squeezing cheze out of a potatoe. I'm plain broke from this crappy economy Dubya has us in.
Posted by fireball74 (80 comments )
Link Flag
There is a differents between annoying a harassment
There is a differents between annoying a harassment. It fact any thing you say that someone may not like can be annoying the them. We have a right to free speech and not to remain anonymous. Don't we? Our are freedoms limitting little by little every day. In some country if you talk bad about their goverment you can go to jail. What is next for are goverment and US. Besides being live to be anonymous so that they can free a little save that no one may come after them. What do you think. On last note maybe this law may not cover small things just large ones. We have to wait and see.
Posted by pjoshua5000 (110 comments )
Reply Link Flag
misprint in comment.
"annoying a harassment" is to read "annoying and harassment" Sorry!
Posted by pjoshua5000 (110 comments )
Link Flag
Some countries you wouldn't think of...
In the scenario you speak of, Australia, who you'd think would be a democracy/republic, has become just that. They now have laws prohibiting criticism of the government there. And if we bury our heads in the collective sand, we'll end up that way here.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Link Flag
This is NOT a personal attack,just a suggestion that you proofread before clicking submit.
Posted by Scorpio555666 (2 comments )
Link Flag
misprint in comment.
"annoying a harassment" is to read "annoying and harassment" sorry!
Posted by pjoshua5000 (110 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I was to but this under a comment I made a mistake under and made a never mistake and choice story instead of comment. If this comment mistake can be remove it will help. thanks
Posted by pjoshua5000 (110 comments )
Link Flag
Do you suppose? Think again.
The presupposition this article makes is disturbing, but it seems its just a less dubious matter of the letter of law not accurately corresponding to the spirit of it. Since the third sentence specifies this law is part of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act it seems obvious that this type of prohibited use of the internet only applies when its being used to harass victims of violence against women. (The second definition of 'annoy' on dictionary.com is 'To harass...'.) Certainly a meritless claim by someone who was just 'slightly irritated' (the other basic definition of the word 'annoy') by a web post somewhere would not make it very far in the court system.

The article references a good example of this scope of reference when the owner of the site Annoy.com felt his site would be impacted by the Communications Decency Act, but the courts ruled that this only applied to obscene material, not that which he was delivering. Scope of reference from the letter of the law to the spirit of the law established.

Using common sense to interpret slight ambiguities wouldn't leave much for pundits and lawyers to do, though, would it? Makes for a good read though, especially when its never been hipper to be anti-establishment.
Posted by whogivesa (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Nice Point
Excellent points. By and large, I agree. However...

I have been a software engineer for over 10 years. A few of my more recent projects include an email server and a web server.

There are a few points that concern me:

1. Every phone service in the nation records who called whom, when and for how long. (That's generally how they make money!) Even if the caller ID doesn't show, the phone company has it. Unless you use a pay phone, you're a fool to make harassing calls. Even then a pay phone can give you away. I've heard there are ways around this however all are illegal and the fedral government has ways around every work-around.

2. Every email can be traced to the sending computer. Coupled with a time stamp, you have information that uniquely identifies a place and time. Even email through dial-up can be (and is) traced. With a specific place and time you can identify almost any person -- given 99% of emails, you can absolutely identify the perpetrator with 100% accuracy.

Don't agree? Think back to the '90s when hackers were being found and convicted. The hackers didn't send authorities their name and address but their computer (in effect) did. Today's systems are even more secure with better, faster tools.

2. Anyone who can get around this is untracable and truly anonymous. That means... there is NO WAY to find them and NO WAY to enforce the law.

3. Blog sites are black boxes. Some may log each message with the location of the person making the log. If so, you have a unique way to identify a person - a place and time. Otherwise... who cares? YOU have to go to THEM to be harassed or annoyed. How is that THEIR fault? Oh, that's right! We live in a time where companies are responsible for CONSUMER content! (Search: Napster and Rock Star)

4. What is "true identity?" My name is Bob Platt. But there are at least 4 other Bob Platts within 30 miles of me and at least 10 across the nation. Just a name could result in hundreds of people. So "true identity" must be more than just your name... but anything more is confidential. So we're back to your computer being your true identity. But if my computer is my identity, why do I need to identify myself if I'm out to harass someone? Am I not already identified?

As it stands I don't see this "law" going anywhere or doing much of anything. It smells of swiss cheese -- full of holes.
Posted by plattbob3 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Very good point plattbob.The only scary thing about this law is it shows how stupid the people we elect to office are.
Posted by Scorpio555666 (2 comments )
Link Flag
This new law annoys me bigtime!
Posted by adamsnoddon (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Annoy this...
One of my co-bloggers just created a new account at our group blog (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://hammeroftruth.com" target="_newWindow">http://hammeroftruth.com</a> ) to cover the story just to ensure that "Anonymous" was the person covering this story and ensuring that there would be an annoyance factor contained therein.

BTW, good job on breaking the stroy, Declan.
Posted by Stephen Gordon (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Define "identity"
What exactly is "disclosing (an) identity"?

It could be argued an IP address is an identity.

It could be argued an account name or email address is an "identity".

So the only persons likely to be affected by this law would be the cowards who cyber stalk from behind anonymous remailers. Anonymous remailers remove the identity of the original sender and then retransmit the message to the destination defined by the sender. Therefore the send of the message has no "identity", as the point of origin can't be traced. The remailer administrators themselves don't have any way of knowing where the message came from or any way to trace or block such messages.

If the intent of this law is to make abuse of anonymous remailers illegal, than it's a step in the right direction.

However if the real intent of the law is to insist every person place their name upon every message they send out to the internet, it's clearly a violation of the First Amendment rights for anonymous speech.

People have a right to privacy just as much as they have a right not to be harrassed.

If someone is "annoyed" enough and have legitimate grounds to be annoyed, that person can file a subpoena to the NSP or ISP or email provider.

There are a lot of kooks out on Usenet and on the intenet in general. LE should not be obliged under this law to be annoyed with frivolous complaints by kooks who feel "annoyed" because someone referred to a kook who would file a frivolous complaint like this, as a kook.

Are LE prepared for the flood of complaints about people who may have differing opinions which may be considered "annoying"?

This is a poorly written law.
Posted by flushthrice (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
This law isn't about you and I being annoyed.
It's about the republican politicians being annoyed and no one else. You can bet that when a democrat gets into office, this law won't work for them.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
I'm sorry
But laying this on Bush's feet is insane. It's something that was stuck into a bill that had to pass. Do you think anyone in their right mind would veto something called the Violence Against Women Act? Not to mention the Department of Justice aspect of it. Honestly, the second this thing is challenged, it's going to get tossed out as unconstitutional.
Posted by hmhill17 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
This country is becoming more and more like Nazi Germany everyday...
Sieg Heil Bush.
Posted by GPayne (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
How so?
Without talking points show me where we're locking up dissidents?

Unfortunately you won't be able to, but you're part of the ChimpyMcBusHitler crowd so facts don't matter. Go back to reading Kos.
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
No, that's Stalinist Russia
Not like Nazi Germany.

Like Stalinist Russia.

Hitler despised democracy, and said it often. Bush...and Stalin...always praise(d) it, while twisting it into something grotesque.
Posted by johnkeller2004 (9 comments )
Link Flag
Remember Adam Weishaupt?
That's been the plan since 1776.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
be careful
I am not a supporter of this law or ones like it but you should be careful when making comparisons to Nazi Germany. When someone makes that comparison it makes them sound like they are on the fringe and takes away any credibility they may have.
Posted by scottyc2005 (1 comment )
Link Flag
What the hell!
Bush is such an IDIOT, wasting tax money on WORTHLESS bills!
Since when is being annoying a CRIME?!
Two years for being a pest is almost as dumb as marijuanna crimes carrying equal penalities as violent offenders, oh wait that real too!!!
Dude, I've had it, thats it...Im moving to Canada.
Posted by SkotSnot (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Why are you moving to Canada?
because you can't be annoying, or that you can't smoke marijuana?
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
What the heck am I going to do now? almost everyone finds me annoying... I guess all I can do is sit and wait for the annoyance police to show up...and how to defend against such a charge? I didnt intend to be annoying? How do you prove that sort of thing? from either side?
Posted by demodred (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
chances are YOU'RE safe
chances are most of the people who you annoy KNOW who you are (not anonymous) and the rest of the ones just don't really give a rat's a$$

lol.... sorry... your post inspired me...lol
Posted by The user with no name (259 comments )
Link Flag
You ar emisleading people...
The act as I read it does not introduce the word "annoy" into law, it takes an existing statute that is intended to prevent individuals from harassing others over the telephone and other devices, and the bill as signed by the president simply clearly adds internet devices to the existing law.

Should a stalker be permitted to violate someone becuse they choose to use email instead of the telephone? Where do VoIP phones fall under the previous law?

Let's try the "Dukakis Test" - if your wife/husband or child were being stalked via email, IM, etc., should the person committing the offense be free to continue becuse they didn't use the phone?

Before you "blame" the president for this (or any other law passed by the House and Senate), remember the majority of our representaives approved this, making it, by definition, the will of the people.
Posted by n2vip (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not quite
If the law had prohibited only "annoying" people via sending them directly email or making VoIP calls, that would be one thing.

But instead it criminalizes posting on a public Web site that could be viewed as annoying, and that's something different. And far more worrisome.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
Response to Ken Hansen
&gt;The act as I read it does not introduce the
&gt;word "annoy" into law

Uh, the author included some of the text of the law right in the article, and the text in question includes the word "annoy".
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Link Flag
the new law.....the will of the people....
The will of the people had/has nothing to do with the fact the law got passed, specially since it was nefariously attached to a bill of higher importance and obscured by the larger issue.

IF the will of the people WERE involved, laws like this would go through a national referendum, to become a Federal Law, ....and not a: "Good Ole Boys' Club", where the everyday citizen has NO say.
Posted by glooface (2 comments )
Link Flag
Um... what planet are you from?
RE : remember the majority of our representaives approved this, making it, by definition, the will of the people.

Uh... you are scary. Politicians raely represent their own constituents, henceforth the vote on CAFTA, many voted against what their own constituents were telling them, such as the labor unions, in order to advance Bush's agenda, which is more important to congress right now than the will of the people.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah, just like the Soviet Union
"the majority of our representaives approved this, making it, by definition, the will of the people."


The Will of the People is not represented by the Washington Criminals. Not on this matter, not on the war, not on most things. The Supreme Soviet claimed to represent the "people," too.
Posted by johnkeller2004 (9 comments )
Link Flag
A President is to blame for everything that happens during their rein.
I do blame the President for this because he's annoyed, harrassed, and threatened lawmakers into doing as they're told.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
People's Right's
Sorry that was tosted out a long time ago.
I personaly will say &#38; do as I wish,(IT"S MY RIGHT"S)
Posted by Earl (60 comments )
Link Flag
I'm sorry, but your constant complaining about your rights while we remove them is interfering with our ability to govern. Surely you can understand our need to control the venues relating to the freedom of speech. What are you? Anti-American.
Posted by aqvanavt (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Misrepresenting law, or Nice use of ellipses
The quote pieces together parts of three different sections.
The real law states that you cannot annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass

via a phone call without revealing your identity if you intiated the phone call

via a telecommunications device using obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent communication if you initiated the communication

via a telecommunications device using obscene or indescent communication while knowing the recipient is under 18 years of age regardless of who initiated the communication

The text is here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href=";hl=en&#38;client=firefox-a" target="_newWindow">;hl=en&#38;client=firefox-a</a>
on page 54
Posted by marigolds (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You would be correct if we were talking about the state of the law _as it existed before last Thursday_.

The FCC hasn't updated its web site yet to reflect the amendments made by the new legislation. You have to take the thomas.loc.gov copy of the bill and do it yourself.

It's not difficult but it will take you a few minutes. And then you won't look silly when posting comments here.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag

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