After spending years targeting illegal aliens, the Grand Canyon State is turning its sights on obnoxious Internet users (commonly called ‘trolls’). A new update to the state’s telecommunications harassment bill could make the practice of harassing people online illegal.
Arizona House Bill 2549 has already passed both of the state’s legislative bodies and is currently sitting on the desk of Governor Jan Brewer. While there’s a lot in there that doesn’t concern trolling, here’s the line that has people worried:
It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use 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.
Violators could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and face up to 6 months in jail. If electronic devices are used to stalk someone, the charges then become a Class 3 felony, with penalties ranging from a minimum sentence of two and a half years in jail for non-dangerous offenders with no prior record to 25 years.
Despite its good intentions, the Arizona law is already being called “overly broad” by critics. By using vague terms like “annoy” and “offend,” it could easily encompass Internet forums or even comments like the ones found at the end of this story. Free speech groups say they don’t believe the law would ever stand up to court scrutiny if Gov. Brewer does, in fact, sign it. And many have pointed out the flaws in the bill to the governor herself.
Source: Yahoo News
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