Annoying Legislation

The United States Congress (Senator Arlen Spector in particular) can kiss my….Oh, wait. I musn't be annoying. I might be breaking the law.

" Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime. It's no joke. 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."


"Buried deep in the new law is Sec. 113, an innocuously titled bit called 'Preventing Cyberstalking.' It rewrites existing telephone harassment law to prohibit anyone from using the Internet 'without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy."

"To grease the rails for this idea, Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, and the section's other sponsors slipped it into an unrelated, must-pass bill to fund the Department of Justice. The plan: to make it politically infeasible for politicians to oppose the measure."

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

I guess I'm safe because my true identity is disclosed on this site.

What a bunch of asshats. Readers are encouraged to leave anonymous and/or pseudonymous annoyances aimed at our brilliant leaders (Please keep them PG, though).

Comments 7

  1. Senator Arlen Specter wrote:

    Impersonating other people isn’t quite the same as being anonymous, right?

    Posted 10 Jan 2006 at 10:08 pm
  2. Rob wrote:

    I’m always anomalous, even in person.

    I think I’m in trouble. So are you, F.D. when they find out your real name isn’t Eric, but Serena.

    I was going to joke that you were becoming more liberal and I more conservative, but I think in reality, we’re both just getting honked off at the criminals who call themselves politicians.

    Posted 10 Jan 2006 at 11:30 pm
  3. Emily W wrote:

    Although I’m not sure Congressional action was needed, I’ve had a cyberstalker before. And it was downright creepy! (I was seriously frightened, and ended up discontinuing my blog due to this cyberstalker.)

    There’s annoying. And then there’s stalking.

    Just try reporting cyberstalking to your local PD. Police don’t know how to deal with cyberstalking, really… After all, the “stalker” is quite likely not in their jurisdiction. So inasmuch as Specter and his cronies were trying to prevent cyberstalking, it might be a good thing.

    But the wording of this bill is downright inane — it will prevent far more than cyberstalking.


    Posted 11 Jan 2006 at 12:42 am
  4. Emily W wrote:

    (This is why I distrust politicians. They start with a decent idea, then completely mangle it and write a law that’s downright stupid.)

    Posted 11 Jan 2006 at 1:17 am
  5. Tom Smith wrote:

    Maybe I’m missing something. . . what’s so bad about this whole thing? So you can’t send obnoxious e-mails under a pseudonym. I’m pretty sure that you can’t mail obnoxious letters under an alias either.

    Posted 11 Jan 2006 at 6:06 pm
  6. Funky Dung wrote:

    It infringes upon free speech. The troublesome bit involves the word “annoy”. I’ll be posting a link to a FAQ about this legislation later that might clear things up.

    Posted 11 Jan 2006 at 6:24 pm
  7. Rob wrote:

    Actually, it appears the interpretation of this law may be off. Check out BoingBoing to read why.

    Posted 11 Jan 2006 at 11:17 pm

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