Hostile bloggers facing fines, jail?
two years in prison for those whose electronic speech is meant to 'coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress.'" "Instead of prison, perhaps we should say gulag".
1ST AMENDMENT ON TRIAL Proposal 'comes close to making it federal offense to log onto Internet'
A new proposal in Congress is threatening fines and jail time for what it calls "cyberbullying" – communications that include e-mails and text messages that "cause substantial emotional distress."
The vague generalities are included in H.R. 1966 by California Democrat Linda Sanchez and about a dozen co-sponsors. But it already is being condemned as unconstitutional, unrealistic and probably ineffectual.
At Wired.com, in a report labeled "Threat Level," writer David Kravets criticized the plan to demand "up to
Such limits never would pass First Amendment muster, "unless the U.S. Constitution was altered without us knowing," he wrote. "So Sanchez, and the 14 other lawmakers who signed on to the proposal are grandstanding to show the public they care about children and are opposed to cyberbullying."
The plan is labeled the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, after the 13-year-old Meier, whose suicide last year reportedly was prompted by a woman who utilized the MySpace social networking site to send the teen critical messages.
The defendant in the case, Lori Drew, was accused under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
"Sanchez's bill goes way beyond cyberbullying and comes close to making it a federal offense to log onto the Internet or use the telephone," Kravets wrote. "The methods of communication where hostile speech is banned include e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones and text messages."
"We can't say what we think of Sanchez's proposal," he said. "Doing so would clearly get us two years in solitary confinement."
Wrote a contributor to the Wired forum page, "If passed, this legislation could be easily abused with the effect of criminalizing all criticism. You probably [couldn't] even criticize the legislation itself because it would cause Sen. Sanchez emotional distress or possibly be considered a form of intimidation."