Arizona Legislature Apparently Trying to Criminalize Being Annoying on the Internet

troll wishnik.jpg
pluperfecter.blogspot.com
"Trolling" on the interwebs could become illegal in Arizona.
Update 2: H.B. 2549 has been stopped.

Update: Anonymous advocates are sending Jan Brewer and legislators a "butthurt report form" in response to House Bill 2549. 

It has been brought to our attention that there's a bill cruising through the Legislature that, according to some critics, could cause people like myself and this blog's commenters to be thrown in jail for generally being jackasses on the Internet.

We understand that there's probably a healthy amount of people who wouldn't be entirely opposed to the above-mentioned situation, but critics to House Bill 2549 say this legislation could have some pretty broad effects.

According to a Senate fact sheet, HB 2549 "[p]rohibits using any electronic or digital device, instead of a telephone, with the intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend a person."

The Senate approved this one 30 to zip last week, but more critics are coming out of the woodwork to point out some problems the bill could cause.

The Media Coalition is labeling the legislation as a "bill to censor electronic speech," saying, "...H.B. 2549 would apply to the Internet as a whole, thus criminalizing all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying."

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who runs the "Volokh Conspiracy" website, basically says being an asshole on blog comments -- which New Times generally appreciates -- could be a criminal act:

So, under the statute, posting a comment to a newspaper article -- or a blog -- saying that the article or post author is "fucking out of line" would be a crime: It's said with intent to offend, it uses an electronic or digital device, and it uses what likely will be seen as profane language (see, e.g., City of Columbia Falls v. Bennett (Mont. 1991)). Likewise if a blog poster were to post the same in response to a commenter's comment. Likewise if someone posts something in response to an e-mail on an e-mail-based discussion list, or in a chatroom, or wherever else. (Note that if "profane" is read to mean not vulgarly insulting, but instead religiously offensive, see City of Bellevue v. Lorang (Wash. 2000), then the statute would be unconstitutional as well.)

In this line of thinking, that would generally turn every comments section to a New Times post about the Hells Angels into a big bag of criminal evidence, since most of the comments are people calling each other pussies and meth-heads a few hundred times.

The Media Coalition notes several famous people who make a living doing the exact stuff mentioned in the legislation, as well as some common examples -- like sports fans talking shit to each other on the Internet, which is typically meant to annoy or offend fans of an opposing team.

The Media Coalition has sent memos to a couple of Senate committees showing a ton of examples of how possibly moronic and unconstitutional this law could be.

According to the vote history on the bill, through committees and floor votes, it hasn't seen substantial opposition anywhere.

Even Comedy Central writers have picked up on this one, writing on one of its blogs that there might be "a silver lining in this blatantly unconstitutional attempt to ban trolling."

"Though Arizona is doing its best to criminalize birth control and immigration, among other facets of the modern world, it still hasn't banned electricity," the post says. "In fact, Arizona legislators use 'digital device[s]' to draft legislation that is often plainly intended to annoy or offend anyone with a conscience.

"When Arizona legislators outlaw trolling, only outlaws will be Arizona legislators."

Even the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Vladimir Putin apologists are getting testy about Arizona's proposed legislation.

You can check out the Senate-engrossed version of the bill by clicking here.


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165 comments
everyonesays
everyonesays

I want to pass a bill criminalizing being a retard legislator.

Bob
Bob

Didnt anyone get the memo? AZ was sold to China to pay off our national debt.

Vera
Vera

I, too, agree that this bill is completely unconstitutional on its face. The lawmakers pass laws because cyber bullying and stalking is the "hot button" topic of the day. They don't regard the constitution at all when making these laws and leave it up to the courts to sort out.

It's quite sad and scary!What's even more sad is Arizona is completely late in the game here. MANY other states already have laws like this enacted. The laws are scary too!  Look at Washington State's Cyberstalking law 9.61.260.  It says the following:"(1) A person is guilty of cyberstalking if he or she, with intent to harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass any other person, and under circumstances not constituting telephone harassment, makes an electronic communication to such other person or a third party:
     (a) Using any lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene words, images, or language, or suggesting the commission of any lewd or lascivious act;

     (b) Anonymously or repeatedly whether or not conversation occurs; or
     (c) Threatening to inflict injury on the person or property of the person called or any member of his or her family or household.(2) Cyberstalking is a gross misdemeanor, except as provided in subsection (3) of this section."(.... intentionally left out section 3 since this comment was getting too long).
READ THAT CAREFULLY FOLKS - "A person is GUILTY of Cyberstalking if he or she with the intent to harass or EMBARRASS (seriously???!!!) any other person, makes an electronic communication (which would include anything done on a computer, e.g., email, Facebook, Twitter, blog posts and comments, etc.) to the person or to a THIRD PARTY.  Yes, if you write on your Facebook wall about someone and they find it embarrassing, you can be criminally prosecuted.  Say you email a family member something about someone and that someone finds the email and gets embarrassed, they can call the police the DA can charge you with Cyberstalking!   Say you leave a comment on a public blog that the blog writer doesn't like or gets "embarrassed" about - you can be held criminally liable.The scary thing is similar laws like this have been passed under the radar in over 30 states without much notice.  HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE!?!

L Sta12
L Sta12

Is there a letter to send to oppose H.B.2549 to send to our representives?

AZ Citizen
AZ Citizen

Hey AZ legislature: GO FUCK YOURSELVES!!

DNichols
DNichols

Hey Arizona Legislature, how about Criminalizing Political Corruption?

Bribe Taking, filing False Financial Statements, Electoral Rigging/Manipulating, Racial Profiling, Miss-use of Funds, Personal use of Funds, Abuse of Power, Defrauding Social Security to reward your Knife Point Rapist Children while they serve their sentence, Ect, Ect.?

(Fiesta Bowl Dirty Thirty, Russell P)earce, and Klan, Arpaio, and of course our Governor.)

Why can't Arizona have Honest Politicians?

I hope to Hell this Annoyed the Corrupt amoung the Legislature, ect.!

Don't like the "Truth" Don't do the Crimes?

Arizona needs a Big Change.   "Honesty"!

Cguy82
Cguy82

I will not be voting for a representative who thinks that HB 2549 "updates [the law] to suit modern standards of communication" when said updates are done with the tact of Find and Replace within the first two paragraphs of the bill: 
http://www.azleg.gov//FormatDo...

LD19 Resident
LD19 Resident

Hey, Congress tried with SOPA and PIPA.They failed as badly as HB2549 does.  

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

Internet decency laws are solutions looking for problems and
a gross violation of Freedom of Speech. 
These statutes have absolutely NO affect on cyber-bullying and only
serve to be a lightning-rod for the ACLU and other watchdog groups, wasting taxpayers’
time and money to no avail.  A similar
law was passed just last summer here in Tennessee, which I responded to with a “potentially
offensive” portrait of our Governor Bill Haslam and his First Lady to bring
attention to the issue on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...  To date, not a single charge has been filed
enforcing this frivolous and dangerous law including myself.  

herbinator
herbinator

Look on the bright side; since 'teabagging' is an act of sexual perversion, the term 'Teabagger' will be outlawed.

FormerRepublican
FormerRepublican

The "celling" of Arizona done behind closed doors and shutting down the internet. They do not want the public to know Arizona's "business model" for $$'s is to turn Arizona into a "prison state" so a handful (the snarled criminal injustice system / machine) can make a fortune.

Ties That Bind: Arizona Politicians and the Private Prison Industry -- In These Timeshttp://www.inthesetimes.c...

Car_del99
Car_del99

So, I guess that 90% of legislators would end up in jail , for being stupid . They do annoy and offend with their stupidity , and stupid laws they are trying to pass

Not Surprised, Again
Not Surprised, Again

Andymfj writes  "If the goal here is to stop/prevent/adress bullying....why do I feel my 1st Amendment right is being...bullied by bullies?"

It is very telling that it is this exact same legislature that killed the SB 1462 anti-bullying bill, a bill aimed at protecting CHILDREN who are verbally, emotionally, and physically abused IN PERSON daily.

HB2549 isn't about stopping internet bullying, it's about these politicians wanting to control information on the internet, telephones, emails, IM's, texts, faxes, chats.

Think about it, if one of my managers emails, or even calls, me about an issue with an employee, or a client, or a project, someone could then take issue with that email and/or telephone call and claim what was discussed was annoying and/or offensive, and boom, someone will have broken this law.   The ability to conduct business communication, basic and sensitive, would be crippled.

Suppose my daughter and her friends are texting or chatting, and one of them says something that offends or annoys one of the other girls, they will have broken this law.  Are we going to be arresting kids for saying things like, Mike is way cuter than Bill?  Are we going to be running down to bail our kids out of jail everytime we turn around?

Who gets to monitor this?  Who gets to decide what's annoying, offensive, etc.  Are we going to hire morality police?  And who is going to pay for all this?  And with what money?

TOM
TOM

These borderline mongloids can kiss my fucking ass. What a bunch of worthless idiots we have running and policing the state.

Coz
Coz

So whats next for Arizona by these dimwits legislators, throw up a fence completely around Arizona and turn Arizona into one big NAZI SS concentration camp ?

Royalphoenix2
Royalphoenix2

Anyhting about legislators breaking the law, then getting immunity in this session...probably not. peace

Roger
Roger

Hey Williams, have me arrested DUMBASS, I'd love to sue Nazicopa County and the State of  Arizona, I could use the money.

Roger
Roger

If they ever had a mind to begin with.

Brittany Hillaird
Brittany Hillaird

Direct violation of first amendment rights. If they try this in other states, There will be an uprising. You DONT. Piss of the internet. Didn't they learn from SOPA?

Josh
Josh

what a bunch of little bitches, they're probably doing it so newtimes can stop hurting their shitty racist feelings

Pen15club
Pen15club

this law is about as cool as the Pen 15 club

Cali Lollie
Cali Lollie

What else do you expect from a state run by the batshit crazy wicked witch (formerly of the bony finger in President Obama's face) and the other nutcase, Joe Arpaio, is an elected sheriff?

Marcy
Marcy

BTW Vic, thanks for remind us that you are one of the screwballs behind the latest unconstitutional bill proposed by the Arizona Legislator.  I'll be donating money to anyone who is running against Vic Williams in the next election

LD19 Resident
LD19 Resident

The idiots never read the stacks of case law on the 1st Amendment.

Also, the text of the 1st Amendment specifically states that Congress shall make nor pass any law abridging the right to free speech.

I wonder if the U.S. Supreme Court would extend that protection to the imbeciles at the state Legislature?

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

dunno, if you or anyone else finds one post a link! I will sign

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

hell John McLame is still a senator. He should have been shit canned years ago for beign involved with Charles Keating!

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

yup. because even the big internet data miners (google et al) were against it because they wanted that data for themselves!

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

yes but I call them teabaggers because of ones that called themselves that!

Anon
Anon

Why don't the legislators, AG, MCAO, State prosecutors association, chuck coughlin/high ground / CCA want to reform Arizona's draconian mandatory minimum Sentencing reform where a non-violent, first offender is sentenced to 75 years in prison? Lawyers get rich from poorly written laws. Lawyers get rich off the taxpayers dime with the many lawsuits they generate. ORDINARY PEOPLE cannot find a competent attorney since all are taken by the "officials" paid for by the ordinary people. Time for Thomas / Aubuchon / Alexander to get disbarred for their over 200,000 felony cases (starting 2005).

Anon
Anon

Why don't the legislators, AG, MCAO, State prosecutors association, chuck coughlin/high ground / CCA want to reform Arizona's draconian mandatory minimum Sentencing reform where a non-violent, first offender is sentenced to 75 years in prison? Lawyers get rich from poorly written laws. Lawyers get rich off the taxpayers dime with the many lawsuits they generate. Ordinary person cannot find a competent attorney since all are taken by the "officials" paid for by the ordinary people. Time for Thomas / Aubuchon / Alexander to get disbarred for their over 200,000 felony cases (starting 2005).

IsTheCrazyContagious?
IsTheCrazyContagious?

Does that mean that the next time Lesko or Proud sends some assinine response to a constituent about an anti-abortion bill (or anything else), they can be "thrown in jail" for making a lewd or annoying comment? Their responses were annoying and offending to me.

Hmmm, that just made me smile.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

and what happens if we disagree with the fucking morality police? Do any of you guys know who Betty Page was? Ever read about her life?

LD19 Resident
LD19 Resident

It already is a concentration camp Coz, with the MCSO shurf as Adolf Hitler, GED Jan as Ava, and on and on and on...

azlefty
azlefty

Well they do like the  spiffy Uniforms the guards wore

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

so could we all!

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

lol probably. It's the first thing they always try to do . Stifle free speech. Doesn't that turn us in to Egypt, Syria and Libya?

FYI anyone remember Don Bolles?

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

lol would be pretty cool if the Supreme Court ruled their laws as hate speech, and ordered a gagging of the entire state legislature. One can only wish!

Bnbk
Bnbk

Damm right he should have. Many hard working people lost their pensions & life savings in that crime.But as another person commented,AZ loves to elect corrupt criminals to positions of power.

Nicholsdaves
Nicholsdaves

I agree 100%  

My previous comment of Political Corruption is now gone?

I must try not to tell the "Truth", some Corrupt ones don't appreciate it.

To: Liberty PTCGAZ.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

yes but they are protected I am sure!

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

EWWWW that is a raw deal for the Jokester. At least Ava was kinda good looking!

Coz
Coz

LOL...no shit.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

btw to Bnbk I can't reply to you for some reason, but yes that is true. I have some insider knowledge of what really happened. Our neighbor from Cincinnati left Cincinnati and moved to Phoenix after being hired by Charles Keating. Later on he testified against him. Charles Keating still lives in Paradise valley. 

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

yes. To Liberty. I have had posts removed from AZCentral cause I made a connection from McCain to the Mafia and from the Mafia to Don Bolles death.

All to benefit AZ's favorite politician, Barry Goldwater.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

you missed my sarcasm. Sorry. I will try and be more clear next time. I know what she looks like thus the EWWWWWW.

LD19 Resident
LD19 Resident

Are you kidding me?

I saw a photo of Ava Arpaio on the Old Fool's Wikipedia page. She looks EXACTLY like GED Jan. I'll see if the page will link over.

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