Flaming anonymously is now a federal crime.
January 9, 2006 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Flaming anonymously is now a federal crime.
posted by unSane (125 comments total)
 
So that's why metafilter is so quiet today.
posted by drezdn at 8:34 AM on January 9, 2006


goodbye internet.
posted by phredhead at 8:34 AM on January 9, 2006


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.

Hilarious.

So how much Halliburton kickback money has been reallocated from Iraq to pay the FBI overtime for enforcing this law? Or perhaps I suppose the GOP plans to raise taxes on the poor and middle class to pay for the necessary surveillance.
posted by Rothko at 8:34 AM on January 9, 2006


Fuck!
posted by anonymous poster at 8:36 AM on January 9, 2006


Shut your festering gob, ya tit!

(email address in profile. Full name furnished upon request)
posted by bondcliff at 8:36 AM on January 9, 2006


RIP Metafilter
posted by Ynoxas at 8:37 AM on January 9, 2006


I'd like to state my name -- John Smith -- for the record.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:38 AM on January 9, 2006


"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."

God Bless America...
posted by sdrawkcab at 8:39 AM on January 9, 2006


Well, here's the relevant text:

"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." (Emphasis mine.)

I'm noticing two interesting bits here. First, this law has absolutely no teeth, since any prosecutor would have to prove intent to annoy, which would be almost laughably difficult in most cases. And second, "any device or software..." includes telephones. What's the penalty for making anonymous, obscene phone calls? If it's the same as what's here, then I can't object to this too strongly.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:40 AM on January 9, 2006


Does this mean ParisParamus has to start signing his posts?
posted by alumshubby at 8:41 AM on January 9, 2006


Ah, preview...
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:41 AM on January 9, 2006


There are legitimate reasons for anonymity that go all the way back to the founding of this Union.
posted by publius at 8:43 AM on January 9, 2006


Seriously, has anyone on Capitol Hill read the friggin' Bill of Rights? Seems like a "normal" lawmaker (IQ of 85 or less) would have a knee-jerk "no, that's unconstitutional" reaction whenever something like this tries to worm it's way into law.
posted by Possum at 8:46 AM on January 9, 2006


Totally violates the First Amendment. (1) this will never be prosecuted. (2) if it is, the law will be thrown out; (3) purpose is so that companies can go after people with "I hate Wal-Mart" websites.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:46 AM on January 9, 2006


This will be an unmitigated disaster for Craigslist.
posted by mikewas at 8:46 AM on January 9, 2006


Do any of you think that the Republicans will be using this to quash anonymous dissent on the internet? I'm sure some of the posts I've made anonymously in places would annoy them.

Ha, ha, suck it, Republiknobs...I'm Canadian!
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:46 AM on January 9, 2006


Ha, ha, suck it, Republiknobs...I'm Canadian!
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:46 AM EST on January 9 [!]


You directed those communications at the US so they are coming for you. Extradition baby.
posted by caddis at 8:49 AM on January 9, 2006


You can all burn in hell!

Todd Lokkkkken
posted by Pollomacho at 8:49 AM on January 9, 2006


Meanwhile:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon has built a massive security database to help protect U.S. military bases and troops that includes unwarranted information on Iraq war opponents and peace activists in the United States, a defense official said on Wednesday.

The official said the database included police reports and law enforcement tips in a legitimate domestic security effort, but that it had mistakenly swept up and kept information on people who were not threats to launch terror attacks.

"We held onto things that should have been expunged because they weren't a threat," the official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:50 AM on January 9, 2006


Faint of Butt: per the article:

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."

So it's an application of existing telephone harassment law to the internet. Of course, there are substantial differences between communications by telephone and by the Internet - most importantly, the scope of the audience and the typical subject matter conveyed.
posted by mikewas at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2006


This is pretty whack.
It should be patently illegal to have unrelated legeslations passed under the same vote
posted by edgeways at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2006


Don't worry as long as you're straight acting you're safe.
posted by srboisvert at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2006


This new policy annoys me.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2006


You people are in BIG trouble.
posted by Carbolic at 8:52 AM on January 9, 2006


So can we get an "illegal" flag to the [!] options?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:52 AM on January 9, 2006


you can all eat shit and die.

21 federal crimes in one swell foop. i'm a desperado.
posted by quonsar at 8:53 AM on January 9, 2006


i can't count, either.
posted by quonsar at 8:54 AM on January 9, 2006


You know, I was in the process of writing a post up about this, but I stopped dead when I couldn't find the word "annoy" in the text of any of the six versions of the bill.

Maybe I'm just missing it and someone else will find it?
posted by Remy at 8:57 AM on January 9, 2006


Never mind, the text is in the part it was amending. I'm an idiot.

Can I arrest myself for that?
posted by Remy at 8:59 AM on January 9, 2006


I read the headline and thought "nah - he must be reading something wrong . . ." Then I read the article - yikes! It's true. Faint of Butt is right that it would be laughably hard to prove and enforce. However, my real fear is this could be used as an excuse for the Feds to pick up and detain anyone. Sort of like "find some law he's breaking so we can arrest him." Scary stuff - we now have a Federal law that just about anyone who has ever been online can be arrested under suspicion of braking - and then we have the PATRIOT Act letting the Feds hold people for a week (or more?) before any charges have been filed. All they need to do now is do away with that pesky right to an attorney and the U.S. will have a full legal procedure for arresting citizens for "suspicion" and detaining them indefinitely. At the risk of being called reactionary, this is very, very similar to the process many Latin American countries had in the 1980s that resulted in the "Disappeared."
posted by sixdifferentways at 8:59 AM on January 9, 2006


“If President Bush truly believed in the principle of limited government...”

Ah HA HA HA HA HAAA!!!!
...oh c’mon now, the Bushco rubber left the conservative road a long time back.
*snicker*
Does anyone still believe this administration believes in limited government?
*chortle*
It’s this kind of goofy crap that conservatives tended to ascribe to touchy-feely, diaper-the-world, feel good hyper-liberals.
*guffaw*

Ah well, just one more glaring division between neo-con “red” fans and those conservatives that - y’know, actually believe in limited government.

Hey, I know! Let’s pass a law against people not smiling at the elderly! You don’t have a problem with the elderly do you? They’re people too! And many people discount them. They’re often ignored. Why then shouldn’t we have manditory smile laws? You don’t hate the elderly, do you?
*spins off into incoherance*
posted by Smedleyman at 9:00 AM on January 9, 2006


In addition to a free speech violation, the word "annoy" is unconstitionally vague. Throw in a Lopez-style Commerce Clause argument, and you've got a trifecta! Suck it, Arlen Specter!*

* parody only. Fair use claimed. Real name available upon request.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:02 AM on January 9, 2006


Don't you understand? They're arresting people for annoying now?
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:02 AM on January 9, 2006


I hate Wal-mart. First amendment rights, bay-beee!

Denny Crane.
posted by konolia at 9:03 AM on January 9, 2006


So the US government is begging for Americans to host anything "annoying" offshore? Seriously, this stupid.

And McCullagh's idea that Bush should direct the DOJ not to enforce this part of the law doesn't solve anything. I thought the role of the president in signing legislation was to veto bills [which Mr. Bush has yet to do!] that had parts that were bad law. And I don't think that the DOJ needs any pointers in selective enforcement of laws at chooses to go after.

Grrrr.
posted by birdherder at 9:03 AM on January 9, 2006


Newsfilter single link FPP.

You fucking CUNT!

Yours, respectfully,
Timo Tolonen
posted by slimepuppy at 9:03 AM on January 9, 2006


Hah! Now I will have MetaFilter almost completely to myself! Suck it, anonymous ones!

(And what Ironmouth said.)
posted by LarryC at 9:05 AM on January 9, 2006


Also, this law makes goatse cry.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:07 AM on January 9, 2006


i'm doomed.
posted by keswick at 9:08 AM on January 9, 2006


[cough.]
posted by mediareport at 9:10 AM on January 9, 2006


molest originally meant to annoy. so when an anti-molestation law came about it was phrased in the same sort of way. so this law against annoying people obviously isn't about flaming, its about stalking someone on the internet, not pissing them off.
posted by klik99 at 9:11 AM on January 9, 2006


Man, under this new law, Leo would never have been able to undermine his own pending performance in the Vice Presidential debates...

Oh, wait, that's the dream world where people in the government are actually smart.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:16 AM on January 9, 2006


Newsfilter single link FPP.

You fucking CUNT!

Yours, respectfully,
Timo Tolonen


Yeah, well, I tried the mulltiple link thing but it wasn't anywhere near as annoying.
posted by unSane at 9:21 AM on January 9, 2006


21 federal crimes in one swell foop. i'm a desperado.
As CEO and sole stockholder of OneSwellFoop NetWorks, let me tell you Mr. Sar, you shall hear from my lawyers.
posted by wendell at 9:24 AM on January 9, 2006


FBI WARNING: ANNOYING OFF TOPIC MESSAGE FOLLOWS

my mom was rummaging in closet and just walked in and handed me a cap gun she says my dad saved from childhood. it's all made of some heavy metal, bears the legend "FEDERAL No. 1 REPEATER" on one side, "FEDERAL No. 1" and a stamp which says "Patd. Dec '14 MADE IN USA" on the other. there is a cover on one side which rotates up revealing a cavity and a small post onto which one could load a roll of caps. the trigger, hammer and cap advance mechanism are fully operational. (is it still possible to buy rolls of caps? i know i could when i was a kid, because we liked to buy them and smash them with a hammer, a roll at a time.)

*idly wonders what other eBay fodder the closet might contain*
posted by quonsar at 9:25 AM on January 9, 2006


How could you possibly want to oppose any provisions of the Violence Against Women act, especially when it has a scary cyber- name?
posted by darukaru at 9:26 AM on January 9, 2006


Spam mail annoys me. Can I sue the mothefucker telling everyone men need bigger dicks and women bigger tits? Kthanks.
Jessica R.
posted by Sijeka at 9:27 AM on January 9, 2006


my humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps ...

oh, oops ... my real name's mitch miller ... just follow the bouncing ball and try not to get annoyed

you got me spinning ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:29 AM on January 9, 2006


I'd like to know who put this rider in. Any way to find out?
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:44 AM on January 9, 2006


Much ado about not much. If "annoy" wasn't in there, we wouldn't be talking about it. As part of a bill to prevent violence against women, and as a tool for going after cyberstalkers, a serious issue, this provision makes all kinds of sense. Lots of laws could be interpreted as making illegal something that's protected by the Bill of Rights, and are unenforceable in such instances, but nevertheless they are good laws that are useful in prosecuting behavior that should clearly be illegal. For example, the CNet page links to the existing telephone harassment law, which starts right off with a reference to "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." Not only is "annoy" there, and has been for some time, but also "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent", long after the Supremes pretty much eliminated all restrictions on material meeting that description. The same law further makes it a crimit if someone "makes a telephone call or utilizes a telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or communication ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who receives the communications." Pretty much the same lingo, and this has been on the books since 1996 in the present form, and in similar form with the word "annoy" for some time prior to that.
posted by beagle at 9:44 AM on January 9, 2006


Well if this is the freedom America is exporting to Iraq, one understand why iraquis are rejecting it.

I thought U.S. admin reached all the possible lows, but this is more entertaining then reality tv, xcept it's really happeing.
posted by elpapacito at 9:45 AM on January 9, 2006


My name is Robyn Manning
posted by If I Had An Anus at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2006


HAHA!

Zippit losers!
posted by HTuttle at 9:48 AM on January 9, 2006


I hate all of you. Each and every one.
posted by rand at 9:49 AM on January 9, 2006


Winning the war against freedom.
posted by jca at 9:53 AM on January 9, 2006


beagle has it. This is about lazy lawmakers cut and pasting text from one statute to another, that is all. This isn't an insidious plot by "Bushco republithugs" pissing on the Bill of Rights. If the law is used in an unconstitutional way, the courts will most likely strike it down because of the basic checks and balances built into the constitution. This is a total nonissue, although I am sure Crooks and Liars will make a typo-riddled post about it.
posted by Falconetti at 9:54 AM on January 9, 2006



posted by Lynsey at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2006


beagle

useful in prosecuting behavior that should clearly be illegal.

It should be illegal to say "anybody disagreeing with me is a smelly fucktard douchebag ? "

This is ridicolous, it's word police, it's like Newspeak enforcement

which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with intent to annoy

Anything can be constructed as fitting in the above categories, I just need to lobby some "commission" that is going to define what is, for instance, "obscene" and menace you with fines till the end of time. It wouldn't be censorship on the grounds that you still would be able to say whatever you want, but you'd be fined for that.

Given that few or nobody want to be fined, what you have is volountary censorship to avoid the fine ; aka you're scared into shutting the fuck up expecially when it comes to criticizing.
posted by elpapacito at 9:57 AM on January 9, 2006


Falconetti : "This is about lazy lawmakers cut and pasting text from one statute to another, that is all. This isn't an insidious plot by 'Bushco republithugs' pissing on the Bill of Rights."

So we now analyse laws from taking into consideration the good will and ignorance of the legislator but ignoring their ultimate effects, if enforced to their logical extend?

Falconetti : "If the law is used in an unconstitutional way, the courts will most likely strike it down because of the basic checks and balances built into the constitution."

And if they don't or if some of them don't and are not overuled then it is the law of the land. Don't you find that a little, let us say, annoying? But then again you can always say that only the annoying people have anything to fear...
posted by nkyad at 9:58 AM on January 9, 2006


I'd like to know who put this rider in. Any way to find out?

I believe it was Arlen Specter.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:59 AM on January 9, 2006


AskMefi: I am annoyed by this forum and also feel it has caused me pain and suffering. Should I file a criminal case or a civil lawsuit first?
posted by StarForce5 at 10:03 AM on January 9, 2006


nkyad-

I agree that it would be much better for this law to not exist or to be more specifically tailored to what it is trying to prevent. My basic point was that flaming anonymously is not seriously imperiled because the law was not created to address that issue and using the law to that end would be clearly unconstitutional. If the law was used that way, it would contravene so much established First Amendment principle that I would be greatly shocked to see it past muster.

If the law is used to its logical end, then you are right that its origin would be meaningless, but I think that is exceedinly unlikely. I also find it annoying when everything bad is slotted into some grand plot by Republicans to take away our freedom. There are so many clear and unambiguous instances of that happening that there is no need to engage in lazy conspiratorial thinking (not implying that is what you are doing).
posted by Falconetti at 10:04 AM on January 9, 2006


my mom was rummaging in closet and just walked in and handed me a cap gun

Quonsar lives with his Mother?

Jesus. Even my internet crushes are too young for me.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:06 AM on January 9, 2006


I can see the headlines now:

U.S. Brings Peace To Internet

TEH WARZ ARE OVER!

Forums shut down overnight.
posted by Navek Rednam at 10:13 AM on January 9, 2006


quonsar lives with his mother?

This should not surprise anyone.
posted by keswick at 10:16 AM on January 9, 2006


I find SPAM annoying. Can I go after 'em?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:17 AM on January 9, 2006


"...without disclosing his identity..."

I'm George W. Bush. Prove that I ain't.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 10:18 AM on January 9, 2006


Poor anonymous. With all the problems in his or her life, does he or she really need a law like this?
posted by fandango_matt at 10:33 AM on January 9, 2006


I am not a lawyer.

However, I predict this law will last about five minutes before being struck down.

Who wants to take the over? I'll take the under.
posted by wakko at 10:34 AM on January 9, 2006


So where was the EFF on this one? I didn't hear anyone screaming about it until today (a bit late). Did I miss the memo?
posted by doctor_negative at 10:38 AM on January 9, 2006


This doesn't affect Metafilter.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:41 AM on January 9, 2006


I am Spartacus, you bastards.
posted by Joeforking at 10:44 AM on January 9, 2006


I am not a lawyer.

However, I predict this law will last about five minutes before being struck down.


Yes, I have great faith that Supreme Justice Alito will cast the deciding vote for the little guy when this trial makes it to the highest court.
posted by any major dude at 10:45 AM on January 9, 2006


Bush signed it. Who inserted that language in the bill?

And, who's going to a) report alleged violations and b) press charges?
posted by JekPorkins at 10:51 AM on January 9, 2006


Oops - thanks Kickstart. Arlen Specter is the emperor, IMHO.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:52 AM on January 9, 2006


usenet wars over

alt.cuddle wins
posted by pyramid termite at 10:54 AM on January 9, 2006


If you are old enough to remember cap guns, you are older than the vast Mefite majority.

Yeah, I remember them too. Got some when I was five. To go with my little cowgirl outfit.
posted by konolia at 10:59 AM on January 9, 2006


If you are old enough to remember cap guns

someone gave my daughter a cap gun about 4 years ago ... they still make them
posted by pyramid termite at 11:03 AM on January 9, 2006


It's definitely about lazy lawmakers. Folks with an agenda have learned that the easiest way to get horrible bills passed is to worm them into much larger, more important and clearly more beneficial bills, because Congresscritters don't read.

They don't have time. They depend on lobbyists and other party members to either advise them as to how to vote, or worse yet, actually write their legislation for them.

The practice must stop, because it's causing a great deal of damage. A Presidential veto is what's meant to keep this in check, but with Bush in office and his cronies driving Congress, they're just going to do as much harm as possible before being driven out of office.

Mark my words, you're going to see even worse legislation.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:14 AM on January 9, 2006


elpapacito:
Read what I wrote.
You jumped on my phrase "useful in prosecuting behavior that should clearly be illegal" by taking it out of context, ignoring my immediately following sentence where I cite as an example of such behavior, the law against telephone harassment, which I don't think anyone seriously questions. But the "annoy" phrase is right in there. As Falconetti said in agreeing with me, it's lazy lawmaking, but it's not an insidious plot. If the Justice Dept. wanted to do it, they could find a law already on the books to arrest you for looking crosseyed at somebody. That doesn't mean it's going to happen, and the passage of this law, with it's reasonable intention of protecting people from cyberstalking, is not a new incursion into privacy or personal rights, because the same verbiage has been on the books for years. Clinton signed that telephone harassment law, by the way.
posted by beagle at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2006


This doesn't affect Metafilter.

Actually, it does.
posted by wakko at 11:23 AM on January 9, 2006


quonsar, you'll shoot your eye out!
posted by wendell at 11:25 AM on January 9, 2006


Based on this new law, zombo.com is going DOWN.
posted by jennaratrix at 11:25 AM on January 9, 2006


Really, the points of cap guns is so that you can get the caps, roll them up in a big bundle, and smash them all with a big rock. It's so much more satisfying than loading them into a gun and firing them one by one.

Uh oh. Derail?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 AM on January 9, 2006


Beagle:
You jumped on my phrase "useful in prosecuting behavior that should clearly be illegal" by taking it out of context, ignoring my immediately following sentence where I cite as an example of such behavior, the law against telephone harassment, which I don't think anyone seriously questions. But the "annoy" phrase is right in there.


Wow, you guys really like to get fucked in the ass, don't you? Just assume the position on demand.

The legislation you quote targets communications which are "obscene, lewd, lascivious" etc AND with intent to annoy.

The new law targets communications with intent to annoy.

These are not functionally equivalent, my friend. Unless you have your pants down and your nose to the ground.
posted by unSane at 11:36 AM on January 9, 2006


Are we annoyed yet?
posted by mach at 11:46 AM on January 9, 2006


Based on this new law, zombo.com is going DOWN.

Based on this new law, 80 % of the internet is GOING DOWN. Livejournalers beware, too.
posted by Sijeka at 12:00 PM on January 9, 2006



Much ado about not much. If "annoy" wasn't in there, we wouldn't be talking about it. As part of a bill to prevent violence against women, and as a tool for going after cyberstalkers, a serious issue, this provision makes all kinds of sense.

Are you fucking INSANE??????? laws that are broad, ambiguous and rarely enforced are precisely where legal abuses happen. uhhh sorry i didnt mean to annoy you with that "insane" comment. just making a legitimate response to your post. really.
posted by tranceformer at 12:09 PM on January 9, 2006


I'm willing to bet the EFF and ACLU will be able to tear this thing down the first time it gets put to the test, but it's still nauseating and annoying just to know that this thing passed. As Declan mentioned, anyone with a half-functioning brain ought to know that the 'intent to annoy' is far too abstract phrasing to be taken to court over. Next it'll be illegal to ask questions with the intent of "causing ethical dilemma" and the robots can finally start policing everything, everywhere.

p.s. Thank you MeFites for being so full of that trademark smarm and wit that turns my gut from lava to spit [once again].
posted by phylum sinter at 12:16 PM on January 9, 2006


Everyone knows the drill. Here's how these things usually work out, e.g.:

"Hi, I'm a corporation and a massive polluter. Your environmental rights website annoys me! Take it down or I press charges!"
posted by Rothko at 12:20 PM on January 9, 2006


The legislation you quote targets communications which are "obscene, lewd, lascivious" etc AND with intent to annoy.

Except in section E of the same part, which covers someone who "makes a telephone call or utilizes a telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or communication ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who receives the communications." Nothing about obscenity. Extending this law to the Internet does not constitute one of those CDA-style "scary Internet" laws.
posted by transona5 at 12:21 PM on January 9, 2006


..."without disclosing his identity"...

Firstly, as I'm no lawyer I cannot be sure, so I'll ask. Given that the law seems to only use the word "his" does this mean it's OK for women to flame anonymously?

Secondly, I'll agree with the poster who said that this law, ultimately, has no teeth. There have been many attempts to censor or control the internet before, and all have met with limited to no success. Case in point; there's a US law designed to prevent spam and I'm still recieving e-mails from the ousted king of Swaziland who needs my help and companies offering ways for me to enlarge my penis.

I predict that there's going to be precious few law officers assigned to the task of monitoring Metafilter, Fark, Usenet and several million livejournals for this law to have any real effect.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:24 PM on January 9, 2006


“This is about lazy lawmakers cut and pasting text from one statute to another, that is all.”

Which is bad enough.
or what FormlessOne said

“the passage of this law, with it's reasonable intention of protecting people from cyberstalking, is not a new incursion into privacy or personal rights, because the same verbiage has been on the books for years...”

And it will never be abused *coughRICOcough*
Volusia County, Florida and Sherrif Bob Vogel come to mind.
No one’s shouting “conspiracy.” The argument is: why have another law on the books that is ripe for abuse?
If it were Clinton doing it I would (and have) be bitching about it for the same reasons. Why did they tack it in as a rider on a must pass bill (given the articles perspective here is correct)?
It’s stupid. It doesn’t matter who in what party passed it/initiated it/ etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:26 PM on January 9, 2006


So, does this make pop-ups illegal? Sounds to me like it would...
posted by darkness at 12:35 PM on January 9, 2006


i'm ancient and decrepit. but you should see my mom.
posted by quonsar at 12:40 PM on January 9, 2006


i'm ancient and decrepit. but you should see my mom.

"Nooooorman?"
posted by keswick at 12:42 PM on January 9, 2006


caddis writes "Extradition baby."

Generally you can't be extradited from Canada if the crime you commited isn't a crime here.

I remember cap guns too, one of favourite toys growing up was a real heavy duty cap gun. It massed a good half a kilo and the trigger was so heavy I needed two hands to fire it when I first got it around the age of five. It didn't take rolls of caps though, it used a plastic ring with six shots.
posted by Mitheral at 12:46 PM on January 9, 2006


Given that the law seems to only use the word "his" does this mean it's OK for women to flame anonymously

No, "his" is used to mean "his or her", etc. in all kinds of laws (and the Constitution).

Why did they tack it in as a rider on a must pass bill (given the articles perspective here is correct)?

It's NOT a stealth provision unrelated to the bill as a whole, which is about preventing violence against women. Women are, primarily, the victims of stalking as well as of telephone harassment, and, increasingly, "cyberstalking". That's why this was put there.
posted by beagle at 12:47 PM on January 9, 2006


That first line shouldabeen in italics, sorry.
posted by beagle at 12:48 PM on January 9, 2006


He's Syd Barrett.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:51 PM on January 9, 2006


This does not bode well for my organization.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:54 PM on January 9, 2006


hell, if it makes spam and pop ups illegal, BRING IT ON.
Okay maybe not.
posted by Sijeka at 12:59 PM on January 9, 2006




American citizens right now are in jail for years without trial. People who write books criticizing the current president are put on the "no fly" list. People who protest against the president are allocated "free speech zones" surrounded by razorwire hundreds of meters away while supporters are allowed up front. The CIA has secret prisons in Eastern Europe for torturing people. The NSA is right now spying on american citizens in open contravention of its mandate. George W. Bush says openly in meetings that the constitution is "just a piece of paper". and now it is a federal crime punishable by two years in prison to type words into a website on the Internet.

Sure this law could possibly be struck down but right now it is the law, which means that right now you can get sent to jail for it. The supreme court takes years to hear cases, IF they decide to hear them.

Anybody who doesnt see the real and immediate threat to YOU sitting at your computer reading this is naive.
posted by tranceformer at 1:04 PM on January 9, 2006


it's lazy lawmaking, but it's not an insidious plot

Certainly it's not a tin foil hat plot , It's worse, it's a law it's "real" and going to have effects if enforced. Prohibition of uttering some words deemd to be "offensive" to somebody certainly looks much like 1984 instrument of Newspeak and similarity to a novel doesn't make a law less "lazy" or "utterly despicable".

If the Justice Dept. wanted to do it, they could find a law already on the books to arrest you for looking crosseyed at somebody.

And you think that it is somehow acceptable ? I don't. What are you, scared of DOJ ? Behave like a sheep, be eaten by the wolves.

That doesn't mean it's going to happen, and the passage of this law, with it's reasonable intention of protecting people from cyberstalking, is not a new incursion into privacy or personal rights, because the same verbiage has been on the books for years.

There's a long list of laws that were never repelled and no longer lake much or any sense.

There's also some ironic one :
Lovers in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, should avoid satisfying their lustful urges in a parked car. If the horn accidentally sounds while they are frolicking behind the wheel, the couple can face a jail term. Weeeeeee Doggie !


Clinton signed that telephone harassment law, by the way.
That's irrelevant, but I guess an hearthfelt thank you will come from resident partisan pundits.
posted by elpapacito at 1:06 PM on January 9, 2006


Arlen Spector, you ignorant slut...
posted by theora55 at 1:06 PM on January 9, 2006


Looks like professional trolling organisations, such as the Gay Ni***r Association of America, is fucked. Which might be one of the few upsides to this law, frankly.

If you do visit the GNAA site, do as the Wikipedia article on it suggests, and watch out for certain links on the page, which are NSFW. For instance, "clicking on the members link opens a continuous string of shock pictures", so yeah, watch out.
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2006


I'm George W. Bush. Prove that I ain't.

Easy enough:
* You can spell.
* You can post on MeFi.
* There's no way in hell he could even pronounce "PontifexPrimus."
posted by zarq at 1:13 PM on January 9, 2006


Who inserted that language in the bill?

Bush did. He was sick of getting email that said,

"Your FBI, CIA, OHS, and all your other American acronyms are powerless to stop the vengeance of Allah for your soiling of the ground made holy by the prophet Mohammed! And, further, you suck. Death to America! SUCK IT BUSH NOOBZ H8TRS OSAMA IS TEH L33T HAXXOR!!!!11"
posted by fandango_matt at 1:32 PM on January 9, 2006


Does this mean all of us five-dollar-noobs can say whatever we want? Our names are in the PayPal records, after all.

... motherfuckers...
posted by cmyk at 1:33 PM on January 9, 2006


This thread was annoyingly long.

You'll be hearing from my lawyer.
posted by davejay at 2:01 PM on January 9, 2006


Just to make it annoyingly even longer, and to try one final time to put this whole thing in perspective, Section 113, which is what the CNet story is about, in its entirety, goes like this:

H.R.3402
Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate)

SEC. 113. PREVENTING CYBERSTALKING.

(a) In General- Paragraph (1) of section 223(h) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 223(h)(1)) is amended--

(1) in subparagraph (A), by striking `and' at the end;

(2) in subparagraph (B), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and'; and

(3) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

`(C) in the case of subparagraph (C) of subsection (a)(1), includes 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 (as such term is defined in section 1104 of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (47 U.S.C. 151 note)).'.

(b) Rule of Construction- This section and the amendment made by this section may not be construed to affect the meaning given the term `telecommunications device' in section 223(h)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934, as in effect before the date of the enactment of this section.


All the hullabaloo about "annoy", and "annoy" is not in the bill at all -- it was in the Communications Act of 1934, which this section amends to extend its provisions to "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."

The quotations earlier in this thread and on CNet are from the now amended Communications Act, which has been repeatedly amended over the years. "Annoy" was in a 1996 amendment to that act, as noted above, but that amendment replaced earlier language which also included "annoy". That language was in the law since at least 1983 and probably much longer.
posted by beagle at 2:05 PM on January 9, 2006


I'm annoyed by the federal government's policy of pulling science information off the federal sites if it doesn't agree with the dogmatic or theocratic party line of the current regime. Who do I sue? Where do I sign up for the "The Government Annoys Me" class action suit.

And from here on in, y'all can just call me Emma Goldman. I think it was about 1917 when I said "Liberty will not descend to a people, a people must raise themselves to Liberty". Nice to see how things have changed in a hundred years.
posted by dejah420 at 2:16 PM on January 9, 2006


davejay: "This thread was annoyingly long.

You'll be hearing from my lawyer.
"




Class action!
posted by Evstar at 2:27 PM on January 9, 2006


Well, fuck me.*

*Hello, I'm TV's Perry Mason.
posted by moonbird at 3:08 PM on January 9, 2006


Cowardice shouldn't be a crime.
posted by Decani at 3:54 PM on January 9, 2006


eet poop
posted by eener at 4:35 PM on January 9, 2006


So, if this law is passed as described, what's to stop someone--anyone, really--showing up at ParisParamus's house with a 40-gallon drum of raw sewage and a reversible stomach pump? Finding out who he really is and where he really lives would become far, far easier.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:36 PM on January 9, 2006


Anybody who doesnt see the real and immediate threat to YOU sitting at your computer reading this is naive.

Jurisdiction, baby!
posted by wilful at 4:41 PM on January 9, 2006


I'm in England, so fuck you!
posted by Acey at 5:01 PM on January 9, 2006


I'm glad to see so many Mefites get their backs up about this. Not that it would ever apply to me though, as of course everything I convey by such means is sweetness & light. (Right, you ninny?)

And what would stop someone from showing up at ParisP's place to outrage him physically, besides of course human decency, whatever laws and statues might apply, and having something better to do?
posted by davy at 7:35 PM on January 9, 2006


“That language was in the law since at least 1983 and probably much longer.” -posted by beagle


So this Declan McCullagh guy has his head up his ass?

...why don’t you go fight ‘em then?
You’re not chicken, are you?

Seriously - he’s off base then?

(’cause you should totally jump him by the bike rack at recess)
posted by Smedleyman at 8:35 PM on January 9, 2006


Yet another reason for the those of us in the rest of the (non-US) world to seriously question the capacity of American lawmakers to make sensible law.
posted by vac2003 at 11:02 PM on January 9, 2006


I have a bad feeling about how this is going to be applied.
posted by beth at 1:26 AM on January 10, 2006


The point has been made by a few people here already, but the indispensible Orin Kerr writes that this law merely "takes the telephone harassment statute we've had for decades and applies it to the Internet."

Yeah, Congress was lazy, shoulda updated the language from the 1939 law in light of First Amendment caselaw, but this law doesn't do what the Declan person said it does. Don't try statutory interpretation at home, folks! You could get hurt, or look dumb!
posted by ibmcginty at 6:36 AM on January 10, 2006


It is not unreasonable to doubt anything touted by the current administration, no matter how innocuous. They are in to bending law to meet their every whim. And when that doesn't work, they just claim extra legal powers.
posted by Goofyy at 8:50 AM on January 10, 2006


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