Monday, January 09, 2006

Law against annoying messages

I am still trying to figure this out:
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."
This is from Declan McCullagh, a reliable reporter and advocate of free speech rights. I certainly hope that it doesn't make this blog illegal.

My ex-wife may find this blog annoying, but that is not my intent. My intent is to defend myself against public accusations. I've offered to stop posting responses if she stops saying bad things about me in open court, but she refused.

I'll have to research this law some more. I don't think that I am violating it. If necessary to comply with this law, I may have to post our real names.

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