"Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate
telecommunications or other types of communications that are
transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing
his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any
person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18
or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
Perspective: Create an e-annoyance, go to jail
By Declan McCullagh
January 9, 2006, 4:00 AM PST
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.
"The use of the word 'annoy' is particularly problematic," says Marv
Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"What's annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else."
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