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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The end of anonymity as we know it?

If you post an anonymous comment on a weblog with the intent to annoy, you could face fines and two years in prison, pursuant to a federal law signed by the president last week. According to the comments in Concurring Opinions, this is actually an extension of an anti-harassment law already on the books:

"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."

The two elements that annoying blog commenters should be concerned with are intent and identity.

What the standard of proof for intent is, I have no idea. But, just because someone is annoyed by someone else's comment isn't enough to constitute intent.

As for the identity part, well, you can still go around annoying people on the internet as long as you identify yourself.

This is for informational purposes only. I am not a lawyer and nothing herein shall be construed to be legal advice.

Posted by Marie at January 10, 2006 12:02 AM

Comments

I'm wondering if anyone will try to use this to go after blog spammers.

Posted by: Rob at January 10, 2006 6:23 AM

I don't think Declan McCullagh is interpreting the law correctly: http://www.nyu.edu/classes/siva/archives/002638.html

Posted by: Ann Bartow at January 10, 2006 7:12 AM

I don't think Declan McCullagh is interpreting the law correctly:

http://www.nyu.edu/classes/siva/archives/002638.html

SIVACRACY.NET: Anonymous Trolls Beware?

(Edited by Marie to make a clickable link.)

Posted by: Ann Bartow at January 10, 2006 7:23 AM