An update to the state’s telecommunications harassment bill could make your angry tirade a Class 1 misdemeanor – or worse.
As Gizmodo points out, this clearly looks like yet another bill written and supported by lawmakers who just don’t understand how the internet works.
Arizona House Bill 2549 passed both legislative houses last week and is now awaiting approval from Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer. The statute states that:
“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use a ANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.”
If the electronic devices and means are employed to stalk a victim, the penalty then becomes a Class 3 felony.
In Arizona, a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail. A Class 3 felony carries a minimum sentence of 2.5 years for non-dangerous offenders with no prior record and a maximum of 25 years in jail.
The bill’s opponents argue that its wording is too generic and that it could easily be interpreted to include public forums like 4Chan and Reddit.
It could also have a profound effect on the right to free speech by banning shocking language online. The bill also states that the offense merely needs to take place on Arizona soil, which opens up an even broader can of worms that could quickly become a legal nightmare.
Supporters of the bill, meanwhile, maintain that these steps are necessary in order to stop cyber-bullying.
What do you think? Is Arizona House Bill 2549 a good idea?
- Trolling Will Soon Be Illegal in Arizona [Censorship] (kotaku.com)
- Arizona law would censor the Internet (technolog.msnbc.msn.com)
- Arizona Passes Sweeping Internet Censorship Bill (disclose.tv)