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Boy, am I in trouble now...

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday January 10, 2006 09:56 PM

Annoying people on the Internet has become a Federal crime, thanks to our old friend bipartisanship.

The tireless Declan McCullough reports:

Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.

This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.

Here's the relevant language.

"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."

The bill cleared the House of Representatives by voice vote, and the Senate unanimously approved it Dec. 16.

Note that about "voice vote" and unanimous approval -- what that means is that our friends the Democrats, paladins of civil liberties, went whole-heartedly along with this very remarkable initiative to criminalize "annoyance." In other words -- if I want to give Hillary, or Chuck Schumer, or Joe Biden, a hard time, I'd jolly well better tell the FBI where to find me. Otherwise, Joe or Hillary or Chuck might be "annoyed," and if I annoyed them under a pseudonym -- like Martin Marprelate, or Junius, or Pasquino of old -- well, I'd be on my way to Leavenworth.

Comments (1)

wang the merciless:


thanx fer the tip off...

i remain un-cowed

and pledge to remain
for ever
the EAGER servant
His Lordship
baron Annoy

Wang The Mreciless

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