11 January 2006 - Wednesday

Anonymous bloggers, beware

Law prof Eugene Volokh says yes, a new law's obvious problem is indeed an obvious problem.

According to Volokh:

This potentially criminalizes any anonymous speech on a Web site that's intended to annoy at least some readers, even if it's also intended to inform other readers. This is true whether the poster is berating a government official, a religious figure, a company that he thinks provides bad service, an academic who he thinks is doing or saying something misguided, a sports figure who he thinks is misbehaving, or what have you; so long as he's trying to annoy any recipient (whether the target, if the poster thinks the target is reading the blog, or the target's partisans or fans).
It's already been signed, folks. Federal law now seems to make it illegal to annoy people anonymously on the Internet -- an offense punishable by fines and two years in prison.

Apparently, this was an unintended effect of overly broad language in the bill, which was supposed to cover VOIP telephones.

| Posted by Wilson at 15:59 Central | TrackBack
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk