Arizona Looks to Outlaw Internet Trolling

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Being obnoxious on the Internet may soon cease to be a fundamental right in Arizona, where lawmakers approved a measure that effectively makes trolling illegal.

As Gizmodo reports, Arizona House Bill 2549 passed both legislative houses last week and awaits approval by Governor Jan Brewer. It states:

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.

(MORE: Anonymous Online Name Callers Beware: You Might Not Be So Anonymous)

Like so much other knee-jerk technology legislation, Arizona’s bill is noble at heart. Its goal is to stop cyber-bullying by outlawing threats and intimidation delivered via Internet.

But as Media Coalition–an organization that includes film and music industry trade groups–points out, the bill is far too broad, both in its language and its scope. By using vague terms like “annoy” and “offend,” the bill risks criminalizing standard Internet practice of acting like a jerk in the comments section of a blog post. Because the bill isn’t limited to one-on-one communication, all open communication on the Internet could be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor if someone deemed the language offensive.

“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 to Brewer last week.

Ultimately, a law this broad isn’t going to hold up in court. But if the governor signs off on the bill, it will end up wasting a lot of time as free speech defenders work to restore the right to act like a belligerent fool in online forums. No one likes a troll, but behaving like one needn’t be a crime.

(MORE: How the Internet Evolves to Overcome Censorship)

12 comments
tastetheshamebo
tastetheshamebo

The internet cannot be stopped! What makes them think that trolling is a localized thing? You could be in Phoenix Arizona ... I could be in Walla Walla Washington. I'll still troll you to tears.

JacobShea
JacobShea

amazing im trolling every day of my life in New England

#whatitis

#thuglifehttp                    whatch Burnsy hes a MAJOR TROLL im a minor troll but hope fully my trollng becomes Major                                                            ://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_653124&feature=iv&src_vid=a8cFo6tOHEo&v=0KYxzn8mRsU

ThatGuyYoumightknow
ThatGuyYoumightknow

What are little kids doing on the internet in the first place and why is the mother/father letting his/her child be on the internet so kids get bullied in real life *teacher does nothing* get bullied on the internet *big problem.*

devinalamo
devinalamo

Whoever came up with this retarded law, must be a giant dumbass. What will this do? Type the keyword trolling and you'll find millions of videos. Even after this law is passed you will ruin peoples lives. Trollers will lose their way of entertaining and will soon lose everyone of their precious subscribers, BIT BY BIT. Free Speech fools! Now I bet these idiots who are so called "passing laws to make lives better" will soon say "oh posting comments are against the law"! People most of the time troll those who deserve it like hackers and modders. These people that are coming up with these laws are basically protecting criminals who are ruining peoples lives! DEAL WITH IT, AND ACTUALLY THINK!

Have a nice day thinking about your own, yes your own, stupid or obnoxious actions, and think, what if this was a law and I broke it!

Watch it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KYxzn8mRsU

okabe026
okabe026

Who the hell thought of this blatant violation of rights. I'm so sure you could find better and more productive ways to fill your time. I wish nothing bad upon you only that you reevaluate your goals in life. If we arrested everyone that offends you, America would just be one big prison....or is it already. I'm getting the hell out and I would suggest the same to all of you who see what is going on with this corrupt criminal country. Yes its my right to say these things, get over it and have a nice day!

desirabledennisd
desirabledennisd

This is complete bulls*it. *Sigh* I'm almost getting used to corporate America's freedom robbing like the SOPA.

NickBigBoyParker
NickBigBoyParker

this is the most ridiculous thing ive ever read.  we care so much about being trolled on the internet that we are willing to assign someone to enforce it? come on america, where are we going?