E-Stalking legislation (AB 919): A good idea?
by utbrian, Wed May 02, 2007 at 01:09:11 PM EDT
Cross-posted from Calitics
Stalking is a serious crime. It is frightening for the victim and their family and a violation of the sense of privacy that we all should have.
So, in that vein,
Howdy Doody Asm. Guy Houston has put forward AB 919 in order to combat the threat of e-stalking. It's a serious problem. Recently, several female bloggers have received threats, and "cyber-bullies" have been causing havoc in schools.
However, I'm a little concerned about this. It has a great potential for abuse. Well, let's check the statute over the flip
Every person who, with intent to place another person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of the other person's immediate family, by means of an electronic communication device, and without consent of the other person, and for the purpose of causing that other person unwanted physical contact, injury, or harassment, by a third party, electronically distributes, publishes, e-mails, hyperlinks, or makes available for downloading, personal identifying information, including, but not limited to, a digital image of another person, or an electronic message of a harassing nature about another person, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail, by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.
The thing about this? It's pretty open to interpretation, and one could imagine an overzealous (perhaps politically motivated) prosecutor abusing this legislation. Not that anybody would do that (I'm looking at you, OC). So, to me, this bans the outing of anonymous bloggers. So, well, maybe this is a good bill. Time to arrest Michelle Malkin.
But seriously, determining intent on the internet seems a very tricky question. Perhaps there should be an exception for people who inject themselves into notoreity, either in the blogosphere or you know, the real worls. So,if I say I'm going to kick some TheLiberalOC.com ass. Yeah, Chris Prevatt, I'm coming for you!
So, how does one determine that I'm joking? Here it's obvious, but it's not always that easy. Are we really ready to start regulating speech like this?
The bill moved out of the Public Safety Cmte and is now at the Appropriations Cmte. So, consider contacting your Assembly members and asking them to slow this bill down.