Wednesday, January 11, 2006

if you annoy me, you'll go to jail

Well, ok... In truth, that's quite unlikely in practice. But it's possible!

It is now illegal to "annoy" someone via any kind of telecommunications facility. There is no tort created by this new law (I think), so you'd have to persuade a prosecutor that you were sufficiently annoyed for them to file site. It's just a sloppy criminal statute that accidently criminalizes parts of free speech. Heaven only knows what they were thinking, but it sure is interesting that if I have a web site that happens to "annoy", say, a corporate "person" named WalMart, then it's suddenly illegal. Given Congress's history with bad laws relating to telecomm, that's probably no accident. At first glance, this law could not withstand a harsh look from any court inclined to follow the First Amendment, although we can only hope that no one is instant-messaging members of that court 30 times a hour during their deliberations.

The details of the law are here.

Slashdot has also covered this issue of crank blogs.

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