Arizona lawmakers have taken time out from targeting illegal aliens and have turned their M16s on people who troll on the internet.
In what could be interpreted as trolling an entire state, a refresh of 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 sitting on the desk of Governor Jan Brewer to be signed, as soon as she can remember how her name is spelt.
The law will make it illegal 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”.
At the top end of the scale, trolling could get you six months breaking rocks. If electronic devices are used to stalk someone, the charges then become a felony, with penalties ranging from a minimum sentence of two and a half years in jail.
According to Yahoo, the thing has been set up to protect Arizona citizens from cyber-bullying.
But as you might expect the Arizona law is “overly broad” and uses vague terms like “annoy” and “offend.” Rather than just deal with cyber bullying it could be applied to internet forums or comments which miff people.
Free speech groups say they don’t believe the law would ever stand up in court. It is fairly likely that the Supreme Court would shoot it down as being unconstitutional. One man’s trollage is another’s free speech.