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Confused by panic over this internet bill. Seems clear to me, but……

Whilst browsing the net, I came across this interesting article on CNET news,

Create an e-annoyance, go to jail | Perspectives | CNET

Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime. It’s no joke.
Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting
annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without
disclosing your true identity.

When I first saw this, I though, hmmmm that will affect a lot of people online. From trolls in newsgroups, to commentors in blogs, not to mention forum posts, websites and chat rooms.

Its starting I thought, the US is starting to try to control the internet and tell people what to do….

Redaing on, looking for some proof of the pudding so to speak we find

Buried deep in the new law is Sec. 113, an innocuously titled bit called “Preventing Cyberstalking.” It rewrites existing telephone harassment law to prohibit anyone from using the Internet “without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy.”

Fine, at last something I can check out, as one of the problems with the internet, and with journalists is they often dont have a clue what they are talking about.

So off I went, and read the link.

Now the problem I have, is I am not a lawyer, so following legal documents is like me trying to crochet a blanket, blindfolded with one arm tied behind my back. Its difficult, not least because I cant crochet!

But I read through it, looking for information about what the article said, and sure enough what do we find.

makes a telephone call or utilizes a
telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or communication
ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy,
abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who
receives the communications;

Ok, so the words “without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy” are present, just like the article said, maybe the article was correct? Maybe you cant post anything online ever again using a nickname, just in case someone, somewhere is annoyed.

I found that rather odd, surely the President of the United States isnt that stupid as to pass a bill like that?

So I read further down, and guess what I found….


For purposes of this section—

The use of the term “telecommunications device� in this section—

shall not impose new obligations on broadcasting
station licensees and cable operators covered by obscenity and
indecency provisions elsewhere in this chapter; and

does not include an interactive computer service.

Note, how the original qoute clearly says “makes a telephone call or utilizes a
telecommunications device
” and note how the term “elecommunications device” is defined above.

From what I can see, and remember I am not a lawyer, this is only my simple understanding of the matter,
it says to me a “telecommunications device” DOES NOT include a interactive computer service.

Which, especially if you read what a interactive computer service is, which to me it clearly says is the internet and so on, means this new bill has absolutely nothing to do with annoying people on the internet.

So if clearly states that that qoute does not apply to the internet, why are people going on as if it does?

Am I missing the plot here? Why are political correspondents and others getting so worked up about this?

Have I misinterpreted what is written? It seemed fairly clear to me, but then again Im not a lawyer.

Is everyone just jumping on the bandwagon and not checking out facts? Or am I way of base here?

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