back to article Arizona bill makes it illegal to 'annoy or offend' online

The Arizona legislature has passed a bill that makes it illegal to annoy anyone over the internet. You think we're joking? The Reg – solid and stolid defender of all that is right and true – does not joke about matters of such import. Check it out: It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, …

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    1. R 11

      Re: What about...

      What about the 1st amendment? That would probably be the bit of the bill that excludes constitutionally protect rights.

      Here's part of the Bill:

      (b) Does not include constitutionally protected activity or other activity authorized by law, the other person, the other person's authorized representative or if the other person is a minor, the minor's parent or guardian.

      In other words, the bill itself appears to exclude 1st amendment rights from being covered. But hey, why let that get in the way of a good scare story?

      1. nexsphil

        Re: What about...

        Makes perfect sense. Say any of a large list of things and we'll lock you up. Free speech notwithstanding, of course. The US is turning into a very unpleasant little turd.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about...

          "The US is turning into a very unpleasant little turd." Turing into? I was under the impression that it has been for some time. Anon so I'm not locked up for insulting the one person who still believes in America.

          1. Michael 34

            Re: What about...

            I suspect at least a billion people "believe in America". Maybe several billion but I may be exaggerating its influence.

      2. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: What about...

        So the law is null and void then?

        The 1st Amendment is about all manner of things. This includes things that are likely to offend or be considred obscene even if it isn't the intent of the speaker to be a troll.

        Surely you understood the Mel Brooks reference in the summary. Or perhaps that was wishful thinking.

      3. Shannon Jacobs
        Big Brother

        Re: What about...

        You don't understand how these neo-GOP politicians think. Well, mostly NOT think.

        If you can't legislate morality, then you have to adjudicate it.

        Isn't Arizona the state where the chief justice of the state supreme court is facing a complaint for choking a female justice during an argument about a political ruling? Whoops, I see it was Wisconsin. Can't even keep my nutbags straight, eh?

      4. Silverburn
        Joke

        @ R 11

        I was deeply offended by your unpatriotic comments. Since you dared to question the constitution, the only logical conclusion I can come to is that you are a terrorist.

        See you in court!

      5. Scott Wheeler
        Stop

        Re: What about...

        > What about the 1st amendment?

        Remember that: a) current US courts hold that while the protections of the US constitution do not apply to non-citizens, or outside its borders, their laws do apply outside the borders (e.g. a ban on on-line gambling for US citizens resulted in people running such operations external to the borders being prosecuted); b) the US has shown itself willing to use the current assymmetric extradition treaties to haul people within its borders for prosecution.

    2. ArmanX
      Mushroom

      Remember, this applies to all electronic communication!

      Annoyed your spouse called and asked you to buy milk? Lock them up!

      Offended at something you saw on TV? Now you have a legal right to sue!

      Upset by someone calling you a bad name? Bam! Jail time for them!

      No longer do we have to turn people away at the border for threatening to get drunk and dig up celebrities, or blow up airports because of bad weather - we can actually throw them in jail for using the Internet at all!

      And now, if you'll excuse me, please stop the world, as I believe I accidentally boarded the ride to insanity.

    3. Notas Badoff
      Facepalm

      Re: What about...

      Since published on the Internet, and this bill has offended and annoyed and threatened and intimidated me, and apparently was intended to, it is a self-referential piece of work and the said legislature can surrender themselves pronto (and with a free tatoo inspection)

    4. Anonymous Coward
    5. asdf Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: What about...

      Fear not the idiot Republicans will get beat down by the courts again and once again my tax money will be used to score political points.

      1. Winkypop Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: idiot Republicans

        Don't forget the GOP is now over run by rabid xstian fundies.

        "The bible, the bible, we get our morals from the bible."

        I truly hope not, that thing is as immoral as it comes.

    6. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Read the ANDs and ORs

      "It is unlawful for any person, with intent 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."

      It's an anti-stalker and anti-scumbag law, and, golly, maybe Register readers and writers -will- have to think twice about what they say. The offence is to use (1) an electronic or digital device AND (2a) dirty talk OR (2b) a real verbal threat of physical or property injury AND (3) the deliberate intention to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend". Some of which words also may mean something different in a law bill, such as if "annoy" turns out to mean "to cost somebody money without their consent", but I am just guessing.

      Misspelling annoys me, but to be an offence you would have to -deliberately- misspell words for that deliberate purpose. And they would have to be dirty or scary words like "bottum" or "nale bomb".

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Read the ANDs and ORs

        So basically it's a law to ban ODFO.

  2. Chad H.

    Well

    Since the TV is an electronic device, and badly thought out policies and bills annoy me... How about some legal judo and start going after those in favour of the bill?

  3. MonkeyBot

    Where does Orlowski live?

    I hope it's not anywhere in the jurisdiction of this Arizona law or he could be in trouble.

    1. Jeebus

      Re: Where does Orlowski live?

      Orlowski would love for this bill to be applied so he can kill off all his critics.

    2. Chad H.

      Re: Where does Orlowski live?

      I think in the UK.. So they'll be extraditing him next week. The government wont even pretend to put up a fight.

      1. Don Jefe
        Meh

        Re: Where does Orlowski live?

        They won't have to extradite him because this entire thread will be deleted as soon as he reads it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even more worrying...

    if some moron in Arizona is annoyed by an article on El Reg, the whole staff of El Reg can then be extradited to the freedom-loving USA and sentenced to life (or death)

    Remember that bit in the Simpsons Movie where Springfield is sealed under a dome? Maybe it's about time to do the same thing for the whole USA (it would solve their problem with illegal immigrants and trrsts trying to sneak in)

    1. hendersj

      Re: Even more worrying...

      Not the whole of the USA - just Arizona would be fine.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Online Gamers?

    Ever played Modern Warfare online? The death threats fly. Lock em all up I say.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear PF Changs - I find your excessive use of flash on your website annoying. Plus the online menu is annoying me as it reminds me of the crap food I had the last time I went to one of your chain restaurants... etc. etc. Well this could be fun.

  7. asdf Silver badge
    FAIL

    Arizona snowbirds ruin the politics

    Arizona is really a beautiful state and in my day to day dealings I tend to come across a lot less rednecks than other places I have lived. Still because our elections are held in winter when all the old rich people come to enjoy the mild climate our politicians are beyond wack. Our governor is a prescription drug junky transvestite that make W Bush look like a good speaker. My Sheriff would rather investigate Obama's birth certificate than prosecute 400 sex crimes he dropped the ball on. Basically Arizona is a corrupt Republican machine similar to the Dem machines in Chicago or Jersey.

    1. asdf Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Arizona snowbirds ruin the politics

      Examples of former great Arizona politicians. Remember extremism in the defense of one's ideology is no vice.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Goldwater

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_Mecham

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  8. Scott 1
    Trollface

    "Rough-and-ready westerners or dainty shrinking violets?"

    As a former Arizonian, I would like to point out that this law was probably the brainchild of some pansy Californian immigrants, likely from San Francisco. You know the type. They usually have a common first name, but omit a redundant consonant -- typically the letter "c" from a "ck" combination.

    ;-P

    P.S. Have I annoyed you enough? I'm glad I don't still live in Arizona, then.

    P.P.S. It's a good thing I moved, because I'm sure at least half of what I post online would land me in jail under this new law, and I'm relatively nice compared to most :)

    1. LateNightLarry
      Paris Hilton

      Re: "Rough-and-ready westerners or dainty shrinking violets?"

      Doubt they're from San Francisco... more likely from the Free State of Berkeley...

      Paris, cuz I haven't seen her in a while... Hey, El Reg... still need a glass of wine icon.

  9. HeyMickey
    Trollface

    Misleading article is misleading

    Notice the use of the work 'and' in the following sentence:

    "It is unlawful for any person, with intent 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."

    i.e You can still intend to annoy and offend so long as you don't resort to profanity or threats of physical violence. Pretty sensible IMHO, and hopefuly will result in a higher intellectual standard of trolling...

    1. HeyMickey
      FAIL

      Doh!

      s/work/word

    2. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Misleading article is misleading

      That was a good analysis. But...

      "... lewd or lascivious act ..."

      This needs to be defined and written down so the people know what they can and can't do. A law that isn't written down is a tyrant's tool.

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    4. Levente Szileszky
      WTF?

      Re: Misleading article is misleading

      Well,

      you, for one, will not be an example of "higher intellectual standard of trolling" (sic!), that's for sure - since when "so long as you don't resort to profanity" is considered "pretty sensible" per YHO?

      Posturing rednecks are posturing rednecks, (simple-minded) logic always gives them away...

    5. Michael 34

      Re: Misleading article is misleading

      Exactly right; but a problem exists with your theory in that you presume upon the intellect of the person that you are insulting to comprehend that he or she has indeed been insulted.

  10. John A Blackley

    So if I read El Reg's position aright

    Nobody should try anything to bring to book the vile, vicious, empty-headed, nothing-to-say trolls who spend their miserable lives doing naught but threatening, bullying and cursing those of us with a higher than fourth-grade education?

    1. E Haines

      Re: So if I read El Reg's position aright

      Correct. What you do is ignore them.

    2. LateNightLarry
      Coat

      Re: So if I read El Reg's position aright

      Nobody should try anything to bring to book the vile, vicious, empty-headed, nothing-to-say trolls who spend their miserable lives doing naught but threatening, bullying and cursing those of us with a higher than Kindergarten education?

      There, fixed that for ya... Got my coat... it's the one with McGuffy's Reader in the pocker.

  11. James O'Brien
    Joke

    god damnit

    Screw you rik what with your apple loving articles. I am going to hunt you down and smash every bit of crapple gear that you have then I am going to let you dog/cat/fish out and then pee on your lawn....

    Did this qualify as threatening? Bring is sheriff Joe.

    1. LateNightLarry
      Joke

      Re: god damnit

      By the time the Department of Justice gets through with Sheriff Joe, you'll have to break him out of solitary in Supermax.

  12. PassiveSmoking
    Trollface

    Scrotum.

    There, I've now broken the law in Arizona.

    Or, if you want to be REALLY offensive... GRAHAM NORTON!

  13. JeevesMkII
    Childcatcher

    Next year...

    It'll be legal to shoot someone who annoys you online, leading the rapid extinction of mankind.

    1. ChrisM

      Re: Next year...

      Nah, internet people are still waiting for the functionality to stab someone in the face over the internet....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Next year...

        "internet people are still waiting for the functionality to stab someone in the face over the internet"

        Already done - http://www.newnavy.us/

      2. SoaG

        Waiting for face-stab functionality?

        Clearly you've never faced a competent spy when playing TF2.

    2. Keep Refrigerated
      Trollface

      Re: Next year...

      I wouldn't be surprised if it could simply be grand-fathered in under existing "stand your ground" law.

  14. Paul RND*1000

    Taking offense on the Internet

    Given that it is very easy to say something on the Internet that will cause offense to someone, somewhere, the only way to not fall foul of this is to not post anything ever.

    Since it's obviously unconstitutional, I wouldn't expect it to survive for long.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Loophole

      One way to beat this law is to post complete rubbish and then plead insanity. If you can mangle the spelling and grammar as well, that adds reasonable doubt over what you actually said, or meant. Some might argue that a large proportion of internet users have been doing this for years.

      1. VinceH Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Loophole

        " If you can mangle the spelling and grammar as well, that adds reasonable doubt over what you actually said, or meant. Some might argue that a large proportion of internet users have been doing this for years."

        And there was me thinking the vast majority of internet users were just thick. The reality is that they're all clever bastards who saw this coming, and it was me being thick all along.

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