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This Is Beyond Chilling For The Internet

Arizona's legislature has passed a law, now waiting for the Governor's signature, that makes it illegal, among other things, for anyone to use any electronic device while intending to annoy or offend. I have to assume there is no way this law can survive a court challenge, but it is nevertheless a glaring revelation at just how oblivious legislators can be in the face of changing technology. Do they not actually consider the implications of laws? Is there no thought put into the creation of laws?

If I make a sarcastic comment on someone's post here on Google+, and someone in Arizona reads it, will I be a criminal?

In one of the big discussions about whether or not God exists, is everyone on both sides of the discussion a criminal because they are offending the other side?

When these politicians air their attack ads on TV during the election, is this criminal behavior?

It seems to me that there is already significant case law describing exactly what sort of speech is or is not protected by the Constitution. This law sounds quite a bit like the Arizona legislature is either trying to make additional types of speech illegal in the circumstance that it is happening via electronic transmission, or they are trying to make illegal speech "more illegal" in those circumstances. From the shoddy wording, I really think it is the former, and thus very likely to be thrown out by any court that hears the case.

On the other hand, there have been several laws passed (both at State and Federal levels) in the past year that I have thought equally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, and that didn't stop legislatures from passing them and executives form signing them. (I'm looking at you, NDAA, among others.)

Please anyone in Arizona call your Governor's office and ask that this bill be vetoed. Anyone outside of Arizona, please let your state legislators know that the Arizona bill is a ridiculous overreach, and that you never want to see anything similar from your state. Thanks very much!
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34 comments
 
how can one be prosecuted in that state if the crime was not commited within that state?
 
How can a british teen be extradited to the U.S. for pirating movies? Because we live in a fucking police state.
 
it seems as if technology and the internet is starting to turn against itself.
 
Geez..what is going wrong in that state? And to think that I almost moved there one day....gosh. I will watch out for stupid Florida not to jump on the bandwagon with this one...this is after all the most law-suit-happy state of them all.
 
+Yas Mean, that depends on how they determine where the crime happened. If the content is available to be read in Arizona, then maybe you committed a crime there...
 
I agree, +Eric Hansen, it's going beyond crazy with some of the legal interpretations. Certainly beyond common sense.
 
I believe there was an article on techdirt that even the MAFIAA is against this.
 
+Carla Jean, I don't think it's technology and the Internet turning against itself. I think it's the fact that the people in charge of legislation have no understanding of the technology and the culture.
 
+Monica Butler, I've occasionally considered Arizona as a possible retirement location down the road, but the types of legislation coming out of there in the past year or two have pretty much put it off the list.
 
This legislation was intended to annoy and offend.
 
I'll have to look for that, +Sean Green. Any measure that's too draconian for RIAA and MPAA is in a class by itself.
 
"no electronic device to annoy or offend"... so every flashing neon sign advertising whatever god is flavour of the month is now outlawed!
yay
 
+lerato majikfaerie, the caveat to all this, tongue in cheek aside, is the "intent" portion of it. By my reading of it, any annoying thing is still allowed if it wasn't actually intended to annoy. Still, if it were left to stand you know how much the courts would love to get to sort out what counts as intending to annoy. Isn't there an entire philosophy of advertising that you have an annoying ad to get the name stuck in people's heads?
 
Exactly, +lerato majikfaerie. The end result of the legislation might be outlawing electronic communication, since all of it annoys someone. :)
 
that annoying beeping and clicking of the damn Morse code tapper drives me nuts!
 
25 years! Lol, I think that is a troll. 25 years is beyond absurd.
 
The bill says it is unlawful to "annoy" people. JESUS! Annoy! WTF!!!!! Things constantly annoy me therefore this is great because all the many people who annoy me can now be arrested. The Wall Street bankers annoy me so let's arrest them all. It's absurd to arrest someone merely because they are annoying. All politicians are annoying. I even find Ron Paul annoying despite his popularity with libertarians. TV shows are annoying. Celebrities are really annoying. We may as well just arrest everyone and sentence them to life in prison merely for existing. Arrest all the annoying politicians now, arrest all politicians.
 
That sums it up pretty well, +Singularity Utopia. Even limiting it down to "intent to annoy" makes all sorts of common, and accepted, speech illegal. There goes the stand-up comedy business, for instance.
 
wait up... this bill annoys me, and it's being conveyed electronically.
 
This is going to become the new SOPA it'd seem. I'd like to meet the person that sits there and comes up with this tripe. Ridiculous.
 
Unfortunately this one already made it past the SOPA stage and the legislation passed, +Dede Craig. Assuming the governor signs it (which I find likely) it'll be left to the courts to throw it out.
 
I think Tennessee tried to pass a similar law about a year ago. My guess is this is more sensationalist journalism than anything as any competent court would throw out this law if challenged.
 
That is what I expect will happen, +Jason Faulkner, though the wording of the law itself is pretty cut and dry and, I think, sensational enough on its own even without journalism's help.
 
I have no intent to annoy any pinheaded idiot that might take offense to my mocking of their absurd beliefs, religious or otherwise.
+Jason Faulkner I envy your implied position that competent courts might exist in Arizona, but Arizona seems to have a lot of difficulty in that regard.
 
+Jon Wolf - Their legislature has fallen off the right side of the Earth, I agree. However, I cannot see any court upholding this when challenged.
ASAIK (and IANAL), the only speech which isn't protected is libel and "fighting words" (yelling fire in a crowded theater). Clearly if I troll a thread or offend someone either directly or indirectly by challenging or mocking their view this isn't either. You don't have the right not to be insulted.

I think the linked article title is simply being sensational, in practical application it isn't enforceable.
 
I find this annoying and offensive. Is this law available on the internet? If so, I intend to prosecute this law to the full extent of this law. (the preceding comments were in no way meant to annoy or offend and were intended in an entirely humorous vein, any attempt to interpret the comments in any way other than they were intended, will be squashed with a court order, if I can get one, or if I need to write another law that will allow it, if it is not).
 
+Doug Griffin, I heard that (due to the wide backlash on the Internet) the Arizona legislature has gone back and narrowed the scope of the law so that it more clearly targets the original intended behavior. I'll need to research it to find the new implications.
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