ONTD Political

Arizona wants to send internet trolls to jail

11:50 am - 04/04/2012
Arizona bill could criminalize Internet trolling
By Chris Morris

Arizona marches to the beat of its own drummer. But if that drummer gets upset and starts hollering on the Internet, he might get tossed in the clink.

After spending years targeting illegal aliens, the Grand Canyon State is turning its sights on obnoxious Internet users (commonly called 'trolls'). A new update to the state's telecommunications harassment bill could make the practice of harassing people online illegal.
Arizona House Bill 2549 has already passed both of the state's legislative bodies and is currently sitting on the desk of Governor Jan Brewer. While there's a lot in there that doesn't concern trolling, here's the line that has people worried:

It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use ANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.

Violators could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and face up to 6 months in jail. If electronic devices are used to stalk someone, the charges then become a Class 3 felony, with penalties ranging from a minimum sentence of two and a half years in jail for non-dangerous offenders with no prior record to 25 years.

At the heart of the bill is an anti-bullying agenda. Cyber-bullying has been on the rise in recent years and has been in the news lately. A 2010 report in The New York Times found that one of out five middle-school students said they had been victims of cyberbullying.
Despite its good intentions, the Arizona law is already being called "overly broad" by critics. By using vague terms like "annoy" and "offend," it could easily encompass Internet forums or even comments like the ones found at the end of this story.
Free speech groups say they don't believe the law would ever stand up to court scrutiny if Gov. Brewer does, in fact, sign it. And many have pointed out the flaws in the bill to the governor herself.

"Government may criminalize speech that rises to the level of harassment and many states have laws that do so, but this legislation takes a law meant to address irritating phone calls and applies it to communication on web sites, blogs, listserves and other Internet communication," Media Coalition wrote in a letter last week.

Source
mirhanda 4th-Apr-2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
That doesn't sound like "trolls" to me, that sounds like straight up bullying. In my mind, trolling is like what sjaustin does: Take a ridiculous position in an argument and defend it to the death while driving other people crazy. But this article is talking about "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend". Now I'd like to see the language cleaned up to take out the annoy/offend part, but anyone trying to terrify, intimidate, threaten, or harass someone on the internet is more than just a troll, yes?
spyral_path 4th-Apr-2012 05:52 pm (UTC)
I agree. Take out the annoy and offend part and the bill doesn't seem like a bad idea. Anykne using the internet to terrorize someone shoukd face consequences. The article reads as if the writer doesn't jnderstand what a troll is, or is deliberately choosing the word troll in order to stir up controversy, which I just realized is a form of trolling. Oh the irony.
mirhanda 4th-Apr-2012 06:02 pm (UTC)
OMG, hahaha! He's trolling us about trolling!
dncingmalkavian 4th-Apr-2012 08:13 pm (UTC)
+1
idemandjustice 4th-Apr-2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
I agree with you, totally. Without the annoy/offend part, it seems fine to me.
baka_tenshi 4th-Apr-2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
they should just lock up the lawmakers themselves then.
hardblue 4th-Apr-2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
If you ever have to go to Arizona, don't drink the water!
auxoriousrex 4th-Apr-2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah it's not very good. We get it routed from the Colorado river and it's always been slightly bitter.
vanishingbee 4th-Apr-2012 05:46 pm (UTC)
annoy and offend, eh
13chapters 4th-Apr-2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
At first I was like "omg Arizona is doing something not horrible?!" but then I read the wording of the bill. Terrify, intimidate, threaten, and harrass - good idea. Annoy or offend - bad idea. Too broad, will obviously not stand up to a court challenge.

Arizona lawmakers continue to be incompetent.
mirhanda 4th-Apr-2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
Although it would be funny if I could sue all the pubbies who annoy the crap out of me. All of congress would be put in jail, hahaha!
auxoriousrex 4th-Apr-2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
I'd like to pretend to be from another state, but I mean, there's nowhere that's too mch better lol. Still Arizona takes the cake in stupidity a lot.
layweed 4th-Apr-2012 05:50 pm (UTC)
Arizona should start with legislative trolls before going to internet trolls. Bill sounds a lot less like specific cyber-bullying and more like a general "OH HEY ANYONE WHO WE THINK PISSES US OFF GO TO JAIL"/
jettakd 4th-Apr-2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
This. I'm all for laws against cyber-stalking or harassment, but "annoying" or "offending" someone? No one would be safe!
resounding_echo 4th-Apr-2012 05:59 pm (UTC)
Talk about trolling, this piece is completely misleading. This is clearly a step toward protecting victims of bullying and harassment and domestic violence.

Plus, do we really think old farts who have power in this state understand internet trolling or meme culture? Or have heard of it?
baka_tenshi 4th-Apr-2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
they probably just spend a day on lolcats.com and think they got it down.
bnmc2005 4th-Apr-2012 06:06 pm (UTC)
Who added, "annoy and offend" and did they do this to intentionally crash this bill?
vanya_elda 4th-Apr-2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
I had the same thought because I'm all for putting a stop to terror and bullying online, but being annoying? Really? It's like people who lump childish teasing in with actual bullying so they can validate themselves.
_sepia 4th-Apr-2012 06:09 pm (UTC)
The Republicans will never pass this, it'll cut their voting base by half.
jwaneeta 6th-Apr-2012 03:27 am (UTC)
lol
myrrhmade 4th-Apr-2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
This might not turn out how they think it will.
mskye 4th-Apr-2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
Oh dear.
keeperofthekeys 4th-Apr-2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
annoy or offend

So we'll start with the AZ legislature then? And the sheriff? Sounds perfect!
lifeisnutty 4th-Apr-2012 10:58 pm (UTC)
As other comments said, the heart of this bill is antibullying. Arizona for all it's mess ups actually has had pretty intense antibullying laws for at least the last 8 years if I remember correctly.

In middle school our school resource officer gave us classes about how to report bullying anonymously to all teachers, how teachers had to report it, and what bullies could potentially face. I had troubles with a few people at that time, the second it was reported the girls were so scarred out of their minds by the officer they never even came near me again.

The bill could use some touch ups, but I think it is actually coming from a good place, especially when we are still seeing after a child commits suicide(due to bullying) comments on their facebook about how great it was they died.

Edited at 2012-04-04 10:58 pm (UTC)
nycscribbler 5th-Apr-2012 04:04 am (UTC)
It has the seeds of a good idea, but someone needs to clean up the language. I guess they realized that if it didn't have any fail, people would think Arizona doing something good was an April Fool's joke.
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