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January 09, 2006

Another blow to free speech online

On Thursday, Bush signed a bill that bans "annoying" anonymous internet speech [CNET]:

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."

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."

[Hat tip to The Raw Story]

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If you want people to post their names on the internet, give them really cool names. I promise it works. ;)

They're outlawing trolling? Hey, maybe not such a bad idea after all...

Though on second thought, that would eliminate many daily sources of amusement :(

Nothing I have read in months makes me angrier. And we have no dearth of provocations. But this essentially means what I now do and have been doing could be construed as illegal. Lets see how this holds up in court. Damn the bush leage bastards for sucking up my time and my money.

Hey wait, does it mean if Bush follows and snoop people around, he is guilty? Or does he need to declare himself before he is snooping?

Hey....

WAIT a minute.....

That mean we can sue the entire wingnut blogosphere for harrashing the world and spreading lies.

this could be delicious.

pardon me, but my juice is flowing.

so does this also mean if I get spam email from GOP I can start suing? wow, anybody spamming my mbx, now can get sued.

O'Reilly has me dead to rights ...

actually... I wrote about this for my day job because I write about the Internet.

It infringes all over the 1st amendment. It'll also be damn near impossible to enforce.

Finally, this was an Arlen Specter deal. He tagged it onto the DOJ budget bill. That's how it got through.

When this goes to court, this portion of that law will go byebye. I'll really be surprised if it holds up.

Is anti-spam tool that compromise already? I don't understand why they even need to pass such law.

http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/06/01/09/1520222.shtml?tid=153

President Bush signed into law a must-pass DoJ appropriations bill which contained a little gotcha for the internet. For decades, making anonymous abusive phone calls has been a federal crime, good for up to two years behind bars -- and the term "abusive" has included threats, harassment, and the much weaker "intent to annoy." Now, that telecommunications law has been extended to include the Internet, so when you post an anonymous troll to wind up your least-favorite blogger, you may break the law. This is silly: the law needs to start taking into account the qualitative differences between things like telephones, email inboxes, blogs, and IM accounts. A 3 AM phone call is different from a post to blogger.com calling me a jerk. I don't need federal protection from that Night Elf who keeps /chickening my Orc.

>It infringes all over the 1st amendment.

Far from only using 1984 as a shopping list, they've also been using Animal Farm as one for a while (the Constitution is posted, but then redlined here and there and finally everywhere).

And SL is right. God knows that if Phantom and I each had a uniform, we'd be arresting each other over this tout de suite. But maybe there's something I'm missing.

I suspect that this measure was introduced by the bush gang as yet another tool to quash dissent., free speech and press, a new cog in the machinery of tyranny.
If you are a liberal blogger and post something that a gopper can say he believes is aimed to annoy him--and you don't use your legal name ( if your name is melvin , but use Mel-- are you in violation?)
-- then he can, apparently, file some sort of criminal complaint with the current executive branch, and if it so chooses it will prosecute you and shut you up.
It is getting more and more chilly in this Amerika.
if you are a journalist/ blogger and you post a comment from a confidential source and our good repub is offended-- well then-- shall your source not be discovered by the prosecutor and then will not every confidential source be

More chilly still.

I wonder who has the burden of proof? Must the blogger prove that he had no intention to annoy? Even if the burden of proof is on the executive people--- well they can simply drag you through the punishing court process just for fun can't they?
Chilled to the bone.
And if Alito is confirmed? ---ever more uncheckable power to the executive
Alito?-----then yet another giant step toward tyranny will have been taken as this law--this new form of oppression-- will be sustained--and our freedom of speech and press will lie fluttering helplessly like a pinned butterfly in the freezer--- now no more than a specimen from that late great historical curiosity-- the democratic republic-- now fast frozen.
No doubt, the current administration would decline to prosecute anyone
who may have annoyed a democrat anonymously.
Folks, this country is in serious trouble.


I suspect that this measure was introduced by the bush gang as yet another tool to quash dissent., free speech and press, a new cog in the machinery of tyranny.
If you are a liberal blogger and post something that a gopper can say he believes is aimed to annoy him--and you don't use your legal name ( if your name is melvin , but use Mel-- are you in violation?)
-- then he can, apparently, file a criminal complaint with the current executive branch, and if it so chooses it will prosecute you and shut you up.
It is getting more and more chilly in this Amerika.
if you are a journalist/ blogger and you post a comment from a confidential source and our good repub is offended-- well then-- shall your source not be discovered by the prosecutor and then will not every confidential source be chilled to the bone?
See what I mean?
I wonder who has the burden of proof? Must the blogger prove that he had no intention to annoy? Even if the burden of proof is on the executive folks--- well they can simply drag you through the punishing court process just for fun can't they? More chilly still.
And if Alito is confirmed? ---ever more uncheckable power to the executive
Alito?-----then yet another giant step toward tyranny will have been taken as this law--this new form of oppression-- will be sustained--and our freedom of speech and press will lie fluttering helplessly like a pinned butterfly in the freezer--- now no more than a specimen from that late great historical curiosity-- the democratic republic-- now fast frozen.
No doubt, the current administration would decline to prosecute anyone
who may have annoyed a democrat anonymously.
Folks, this country is in serious trouble.


I'm fairly certain that they're listening... and their Silence is VERY ANNOYING! To Whom do I lodge my complaint? ^..^

What if I post using a pseudonym?

What the hell else is a massively multiplayer game?

If you have to play an MMG with your real name, a lovely fact will emerge: there are 100k Chinese farm boys playing MMGs in China. They achieve and sell virtual doodads on Ebay for their small-time employers. In some of the online games, 1/4 to 1/2 of the players are "outsourced".

You silly bedwetting moonbats are just victims of Bush Derangement Syndrome. You're all paranoid that big, bad Bush is going to take away your God-given right to annoy the Christian majority with your pointless, immature attacks. You never use logic, you just attack, attack, attack. I'm very glad that Bush was wise enough to ban this annoying, objectively pro-terrorist behavior.

From what I can tell, this add-on was designed to protect people from harassment on the net. As I said, I follow this business pretty closely. An excellent security blog called Schneier On Security mentioned it yesterday and Schneier got more information from BoingBoing:

This is from an anonymous attorney:
The anonymous harassment provision ( Link ) is the old telephone-annoyance statute that has been on the books for decades. It was updated in the widely (and in many respects deservedly) ridiculed Communications Decency Act to include new technologies, and the cases make clear its applicability to Internet communications. See, e.g., ACLU v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824, 829 n.5 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (text here), aff'd, 521 U.S. 824 (1997). Unlike the indecency provisions of the CDA, this scope update was not invalidated in the courts and remains fully effective.

In other words, the latest amendment, which supposedly adds Internet communications devices to the scope of the law, is meaningless surplusage.

I think it will be overturned because the annoyance thing goes further on the Internet than it did on the phone. I think there's a lot of difference between the two but we shall see.

Thank you anonymous, great example. Under this law, anonymous can be arrested for the post he or she just made, which was intended to annoy us using the Internet. Anonymous, how dare you break a law that the All-wise President Bush just created? Are you questioning President Bush's wisdom?

"On Thursday, Bush signed a bill that bans "annoying" anonymous internet speech"

They are doing this because they are the party of small government. Um, no, wait...

Thank you anonymous, great example. Under this law, anonymous can be arrested for the post he or she just made, which was intended to annoy us using the Internet. Anonymous, how dare you break a law that the All-wise President Bush just created? Are you questioning President Bush's wisdom?

I'm pretty sure satirizing trolls was the post's entire point.

I agree. "Bush was wise to pass this law that forbids me to annoy people over the Internet, which I'm now breaking by telling you liberals to shove it up your ass, as I thereby say screw President Bush's stupid law against annoying people over the Internet!"

It's beautiful: basically, Bush has passed a law that allows no Bush supporter to express support for his law without breaking it.

You nameless assholes don't realize that annoying people under your own name remains legal. So screw you. Anonymous people can be abused with impunity, and they can't peep a peep, because if they do, that will annoy me.

Oops, you're right--let me edit:

It's beautiful: basically, Bush has passed a law that allows no anonymousBush supporter to express support for his law without breaking it.

But that still sinks all the rent-a-rioters that Karl Rove hired to scream, "Stop the Recount Now for Some Reason! Stop the Recount Now for Some Reason!" in December of 2000.

Oops, you're right--let me edit:

It's beautiful: basically, Bush has passed a law that allows no anonymousBush supporter to express support for his law without breaking it.

But that still sinks all the rent-a-rioters that Karl Rove hired to scream, "Stop the Recount Now for Some Reason! Stop the Recount Now for Some Reason!" in December of 2000 (if they scream it online).

Oops, you're right--let me edit:

It's beautiful: basically, Bush has passed a law that allows no anonymousBush supporter to express support for his law without breaking it.

But that still sinks all the rent-a-rioters that Karl Rove hired to scream, "Stop the Recount Now for Some Reason! Stop the Recount Now for Some Reason!" in December of 2000 (if they scream it online).

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