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Stephen Mcleod
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http://www.azleg.gov//FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/50le...

It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use a telephone 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.

----

So now the standard is annoying or offending?

I was thinking about this in the other freedom of speech thread.

There has been a growing meme in my lifetime that "sure you have freedom of speech from the government but not from anyone else" and I remember that did not used to be the case.

We valued freedom of speech so highly that a company would get a black eye for firing someone for what they said on their own time. Sure, there were exceptions-- some things would get you fired and folks would back the company up- but it wasn't much.

But that has changed significantly over the last 25 years. Unless you want to be unemployed- you keep your mouth shut because you have no privacy and your fairly private thoughts and desires are blasted out for the entire world to judge you, your relatives, your university, your company by what you said and whether or not they punished you for saying it.

It's depressing.
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Kenneth
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Seen this kicking around lately... here's the thing. Note that the document you linked is a proposed amendment. If passed, the blue text is new, the red text is removed. The primary amendments have to do with surveilling; the other change is from "telephone" to "electronic device." The text you quoted and bolded? Already law.

The changes look like they're aimed to address emerging technologies--so, for example, if the amendments passed you could no longer get yourself off the hook by saying, "Your Honor, I used Skype to make those threatening phonecalls, and that is clearly not covered by the statute."

I tend to favor a strong interpretation of the First Amendment and so I'm inclined to look even on the existing statute with some suspicion, don't get me wrong. But don't be fooled by the internet into thinking this is something new and different. I'd be surprised if something very like this exact statute didn't exist in most states, especially those where the legislature has caved to the "anti-bullying" brigade.
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Eric Mowrer
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Alaren wrote:
Seen this kicking around lately... here's the thing. Note that the document you linked is a proposed amendment. If passed, the blue text is new, the red text is removed. The primary amendments have to do with surveilling; the other change is from "telephone" to "electronic device." The text you quoted and bolded? Already law.

The changes look like they're aimed to address emerging technologies--so, for example, if the amendments passed you could no longer get yourself off the hook by saying, "Your Honor, I used Skype to make those threatening phonecalls, and that is clearly not covered by the statute."

I tend to favor a strong interpretation of the First Amendment and so I'm inclined to look even on the existing statute with some suspicion, don't get me wrong. But don't be fooled by the internet into thinking this is something new and different. I'd be surprised if something very like this exact statute didn't exist in most states, especially those where the legislature has caved to the "anti-bullying" brigade.


Does that mean Westboro Babptists can be shut down in most states? Clearly they have intent to offend and annoy.

I'm honestly not sure how I would feel about that.
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Ken
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maxo-texas wrote:
So now the standard is annoying or offending?


As Mr. Pike noted, this isn't a new standard. If someone is repeatedly calling your telephone and just hanging up without speaking, that's already a crime (albeit, not a particularly serious one).

This particular change to the law has its roots in harassment, bullying, annoying, or offending that's started to show up on various social networks. These have occasionally risen to outright abuse, stalking, threats, etc. that have had some pretty serious impacts on the targets of the communications. While some of those cases have resulted in criminal prosecution, many haven't. As we move more into a truly digital age, this type of behavior will have wider impacts and could even become a matter or public concern given how employers and others are starting to look to social networks or similar sites for information about a person prior to hiring, dating, babysitting, etc.

So you still have your freedom of speech. But that freedom's never been absolute and this legislation is adapting old law for new circumstances. Which may not be the worst thing ever, so long as we keep an eye on the application and make sure it isn't abused.
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Kenneth
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ejmowrer wrote:
Does that mean Westboro Babptists can be shut down in most states? Clearly they have intent to offend and annoy.


Nah. If the Westboro Baptists came to picket your house, you could probably make trouble for them (depending on how public your persona is).

I suspect that the reason the proposed amendment got noticed in the first place is that the Arizona legislature is being insufficiently imaginative with regard to the nature of "electronic devices." The second sentence of 13-2916(A) implies that this statute was originally intended to address the fact that your telephone can be used to harass you even when you're in the privacy of your home. Well, now Skype can be used for the same purpose. And maybe instant messaging? Texts?

Anyway, change that "telephone" to "electronic device" and you've not only added computers (is an IM the same level of intrusion on your home as a phonecall?) but, say, megaphones.

Of course those other devices are probably covered in nuisance statutes and disturbing-the-peace statutes and the like, so I don't know that this is a serious problem. Sloppy drafting, maybe, but hardly the scandal the blogosphere is making it out to be.
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Dan Schaeffer
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Alaren wrote:
Seen this kicking around lately... here's the thing. Note that the document you linked is a proposed amendment. If passed, the blue text is new, the red text is removed. The primary amendments have to do with surveilling; the other change is from "telephone" to "electronic device." The text you quoted and bolded? Already law.

The changes look like they're aimed to address emerging technologies--so, for example, if the amendments passed you could no longer get yourself off the hook by saying, "Your Honor, I used Skype to make those threatening phonecalls, and that is clearly not covered by the statute."

I tend to favor a strong interpretation of the First Amendment and so I'm inclined to look even on the existing statute with some suspicion, don't get me wrong. But don't be fooled by the internet into thinking this is something new and different. I'd be surprised if something very like this exact statute didn't exist in most states, especially those where the legislature has caved to the "anti-bullying" brigade.


Suggested reading on the subject:
http://www.popehat.com/2012/04/03/in-which-sure-what-the-hel...
http://volokh.com/2012/03/31/a-crime-to-use-any-electronic-o...
 
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rico mcflico
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Mill Valley
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Alaren wrote:
But don't be fooled by the internet into thinking this is something new and different.

It seems different:

Before: You can get arrested for calling somebody and act like an ass
After: You can get arrested for trolling internet forums

Also, it is apparently dead, or at least awaiting revision:
Phoenix New Times wrote:
H.B. 2549 never quite made it to the governor, according to Phoenix New Times. Also, the bill was amended before it passed the Senate and returned to the House, and has been reportedly shot down.


 
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Stephen Mcleod
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It seems to me that you just need to use existing harassment laws.

Adding more laws often make more wiggle room rather than less wiggle room.

And-- as we saw in the British case-- the wording of the law matters.

If the law SAYS "annoy or offend" then that's the LAW. "Intent" doesn't matter when a judge is putting you in jail for 47 days because you annoyed someone in an internet forum.
 
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Kenneth
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maxo-texas wrote:
Adding more laws often make more wiggle room rather than less wiggle room.


I don't know that I completely agree (see, e.g., the relative prison population of the United States) but "fewer laws" is a sentiment I can generally get behind.
 
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