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Anonymous annoyance now a crime

A new federal law states that when you annoy someone on the Internet, you must disclose your identity:

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.

It will be interesting to see the effect of such law on blogs that allow anonymous comments.

Read the full News.com article. (Via).


Filed in Interesting on 09 Jan 06 | Tags: ,


Reader's Comments

  1. |

    SHUT UP!is this an annoyance? hehe..

  2. |

    Absolutely amazing. I mean, for crying out loud, the Founding Fathers wrote anonymously all the time. The Federalist Papers were published anonymously, and you’d better believe plenty of people were annoyed by them.

  3. |

    Here’s what I had posted on my blog (as a comment)

    I think the problem is with the fact that they have just added the following, `(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)).’ to update the act to include any devices/software that can be used for communications and if the original Act says “ makes a telephone call or utilizes a telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or ommunication 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;.

    You have the potential to apply this to blogs, emails, messaging, or web postings as all of the above are forms of communications. Who is to say that someone might be annoyed by various postings and could potential file charges against the author. For example, if I constantly and consistently post about an individual or group of individuals, then the intent to “annoy or harass” is there? Hmm, if someone persistently post about Larry Ellison not willing to get Oracle to do something about security (or lack of) in the Oracle products, that individual could potentially be brought up on charges under the new act. Food for thought.

  4. |

    Pete said: “Hmm, if someone persistently post about Larry Ellison not willing to get Oracle to do something about security (or lack of) in the Oracle products, that individual could potentially be brought up on charges under the new act.”

    Yes, but there are conditions:

    1) You must be anonymous 2) You must be subject to the laws of the US

    If you don’t mind being responsible for your own words then there is no problem.

    Free speech is still protected.

    If an anonymous person annoyed Larry by publishing a lie or presented him to the public in a false light, then Ellison could get law enforcement to reveal the identity of the person.

    THis looks similar to the laws in other places that already make it a crime to annoy people:

    http://www.dba-oracle.com/internet_journalism_libel_laws.htm

    Where I live (NC) we have a state law: “Electronically mail or electronically communicate to another and to knowingly make any false statement concerning death, injury, illness, disfigurement, indecent conduct, or criminal conduct of the person electronically mailed or of any member of the person’s family or household with the intent to abuse, annoy, threaten, terrify, harass, or embarrass.” (see North Carolina Code §14-169.3(b)(3))”

    In parts of Australia, publishing annoying statements (even if they are true) is a crime:

    http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au/cmcl/publications/def5.pdf

    “In New South Wales, defamation law is not codified, but the common law is significantly modified by the Defamation Act 1974 (NSW). In all Australian States and Territories defamation may attract criminal, as well as civil, liability.”