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Lying Online No Longer a Crime In Rhode Island 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-would-lie-on-the-internet-anyway dept.
stevegee58 writes "In a sudden outbreak of common sense, Rhode Island repealed an obscure law enacted in 1989 that made it a crime to lie in online postings. Violations of this law carried a maximum penalty of $500 and up to a year in prison. From the article: '"This law made virtually the entire population of Rhode Island a criminal," said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union. "When this bill was enacted nobody had any idea what its ramifications were. Telling fibs may be wrong, but it shouldn't be criminal activity." The law aimed to stop fraud, con artists and scammers, but also outlawed the "transmission of false data" regardless of whether liars stood to profit from their deception or not.'"
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Lying Online No Longer a Crime In Rhode Island

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  • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @05:20AM (#40464927) Journal
    Bakeries across the state would have a problem. At least the ones that make cake...
  • now if it is legal to lie on the internet, does that than mean lying about agreeing to a eula or other digital contract is valid if said agreement unlocks software after key exchange over the Internet?

    • now if it is legal to lie on the internet, does that than mean lying about agreeing to a eula or other digital contract is valid if said agreement unlocks software after key exchange over the Internet?

      Lying on the internet is not a crime per se anymore in this state, but fraud would still be a crime, including fraud that was committed by lying on the internet. You can't lie about agreeing to a Eula - you can only click on a button without agreeing, in which case you usually have no rights to the software in question, which makes every single use of the software copyright infringement. If there is an unlock of DRM restricted software, then there is a DMCA violation. Of course if things went to court, nobo

      • Re:eula (Score:4, Informative)

        by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] [lynx.bc.ca]> on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:10AM (#40466909) Journal

        You can't lie about agreeing to a Eula - you can only click on a button without agreeing, in which case you usually have no rights to the software in question, which makes every single use of the software copyright infringement

        While I know that some companies would like to push this notion on everybody, this probably depends on where a person lives, and whether or not violating terms of an EULA is considered to be against the law. In most places, afaik, it is not... and *CERTAINLY* does not cause every use to be copyright infringement... it only causes the usages to be unauthorized. Copyright infringement involves unauthorized copies, not unauthorized use.

        • While I know that some companies would like to push this notion on everybody, this probably depends on where a person lives, and whether or not violating terms of an EULA is considered to be against the law. In most places, afaik, it is not... and *CERTAINLY* does not cause every use to be copyright infringement... it only causes the usages to be unauthorized. Copyright infringement involves unauthorized copies, not unauthorized use.

          You confuse a few things. You either agree to the EULA, or you don't. In many cases, acceptance of the EULA is part of the contract between you and the seller. Without acceptance of the EULA there is no valid contract. Without valid contract, you have no right to copy anything. Using software copies the software into RAM. That copy is legal if you have the right to use the software, it is copyright infringement if you don't. That's the part when you don't agree.

          If you agree, that is of course not against

          • by mark-t (151149)

            The issue of RAM copies being subject to the permissions applicable for copyrighted works is highly questionable, since a copy made into RAM is necessary for the work to simply be USED. Since usage is not governed by copyright, it follows that copies that are made merely as a consequence of trying to use the work normally cannot be either.

            Admittedly, in some jurisdictions, this is a fairly hot issue. Again, it depends on whether or not regional laws have determined that EULA's have any legal weight to

          • by Anonymous Coward

            17 USC 117 (a) (1) [cornell.edu]

      • by ultranova (717540)

        You can't lie about agreeing to a Eula - you can only click on a button without agreeing, in which case you usually have no rights to the software in question, which makes every single use of the software copyright infringement.

        Wouldn't that make the original sale fraud? Imagine if I sold you a coffee maker, then when you opened the box you found another box and a note informing you that opening the inner box means you're bound to some extra terms - the very best I could hope for would be that you'd ignore

    • why was this moded troll it was an honest question?

  • If you think lying is a morally un-praiseworthy activity (a negative of what we philosophers call morally sufficient), then you are rather near-sighted indeed.

    • by FhnuZoag (875558) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @06:10AM (#40465151)

      Well, I for one have never lied on the internet!

    • Someones breaking out Hume rather early.

      Clearly lying is a morally un-praiseworthy activity since lying is most likely to harm you in the long run while also harming the general good. Lying benefits no one except the person telling the lie (making it a selfish act) and always harms at least one other person. It is, at best, a more or less neutral act, and more often then not, an un-praiseworthy moral activity.
      • Re:Ends for Means (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @08:38AM (#40465935) Journal

        When I teach my child about why she shouldn't lie, what I tell her is this:

        Yes, when you lie, your peers will punish you when they find out. But that's not the real issue.

        When you're a liar, you're projecting a false self as a problem solving tool. This forces you to keep multiple versions of reality in your head.

        Carried systematically across a lifetime, this will cause you to become a person made up of many people, none of whom are you.

        Eventually, you will not know who you are, or what you believe, and when you meet a strong person with integrity, you will be unable to hold a form of your own in their presence.

        This is a road to hell on earth, a hell contained within ones own mind, where the wind can blow your identity to and fro at a moments notice, and you live in a constant state of fearful reactionary adjustment of self.

        What it all boils down to is this: people are not worth lying to.

        • If I had mod points, I'd use them all. Rather than a moral frame, you take an economic frame. I think everyone understands the concept of "pain in the ass."
          • If she asks you "Does this make me look Fat?"

            If she asks you "Is she prettier than me?"

            Never answer these with the truth, if the truthful answer would be "no".

            • If she asks you "Does this make me look Fat?"

              Yes, that outfit sucks. You should wear XYZ instead, you look sexy as hell in it.

              If she asks you "Is she prettier than me?"

              Yes, but she drags her teeth... I'd much rather be with you.

        • That seems like your reason for behaving good in society is "it is what is best for ME". Is there no room for altruism, or good for good's sake, in your philosophy? What happens when you weigh the balance, and lying really does benefit you more than truth?

        • by idontgno (624372)

          When you're a liar, you're projecting a false self as a problem solving tool. This forces you to keep multiple versions of reality in your head.

          The less nuanced but catchier way I've heard this expressed is "There are many lies but only one truth."

        • by trevc (1471197)
          Your child understood everything you said? Wow - at what age to you give them this lesson?
          • Your child understood everything you said? Wow - at what age to you give them this lesson?

            When she was 9. And yes, she understood everything. I know this because she intelligently paraphrased me to someone else while I was in earshot.

        • While this may be true for really big lies, I would imagine that most persistent lies that people tell fall into the exaggeration or truth twisting category. Over time with consistent telling, they become the truth in your mind. I highly doubt that anyone has a truly accurate memory of their past.
        • by rednip (186217)

          When you're a liar, you're projecting a false self as a problem solving tool. This forces you to keep multiple versions of reality in your head.

          Actually lying doesn't 'make' you do anything. The reason why most liars are easy to spot is that they tend to be inconsistent. You'll also find that once they are confronted with their lies, most often they'll either 'lie more' or get angry. An honest man is generally concerned with offering a consistent narrative, a liar only begins to care when their ass is on the line. Fortunately for those looking for the truth, a dishonest man can be shown as such through ancillary activities even when they careful

          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            This is why it is easier to just "dance around the truth".

            Kind of like when you were a teen and got home late, and the next morning, your parents asked when you got in.

            You answer "Oh...around midnight".

            3am *is* around midnight...you didn't lie, but if they make assumptions, its not your fault.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Lying isn't in and of itself bad. Like everything else, context matters. If you claim that Joe is a drug dealer and he's not, he can sue you and he would be right in doing so; you have harmed him. You have done wrong.

        If grandma asks "did you steal that cookie?" and you lie and say "no" that's also wrong.

        But if your wife asks "is my ass too big," woe to both of you if you answer truthfully. If your daughter asks "how do you like the picture I drew, daddy?" and you truthfully answer "sorry, honey, it's pretty

      • Mind if I break out the Rand too? ;)

        Ethical egoism.

    • If you think lying is a morally un-praiseworthy activity (a negative of what we philosophers call morally sufficient), then you are rather near-sighted indeed.

      The world is in a sad state if you or people in general believe that. There is something wrong with lying, there is nothing wrong with finding the act of lying to be objectionable. I'm not saying I've never done it.

      That kind of attitude is one of the signs of a major failure in society.

  • Interesting... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bratwiz (635601) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @05:39AM (#40465005)

    One wonders if this would have covered all of those "Campaign Promises" made by politicians in their zeal to get elected... or any of the other spewage which regularly emanates from their persons...??? If so, this law might have had a useful purpose after all. What would it take to get such a law enacted in Washington D.C.?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Only an act of congr... oh, wait..

    • by cgenman (325138)

      I doubt Rhode Island's politicians would bat an eye, considering the crimes [wikipedia.org] they've been convicted of.

  • Good I ain't from Rhode Island anyway.

    • Good I ain't from Rhode Island anyway.

      People from Rhode Island are so honest that this law was just a formality, nobody there would ever lie. I know this is true because someone from Rhode Island told me, and people from Rhode Island are so honest ....

      • by MrP- (45616)

        It's true. I'm from RI and still live there and I've never lied in my life.

        Except just now, by saying I've never lied in my life.

    • Hey... just used my Rhode Island proxy and I'm able to access both RIAA.com and MPAA.org again!
  • by wzzzzrd (886091) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @05:41AM (#40465017)
    Is that actually true? Because I read it online in a blog from Rhode Island...
    • Is that actually true? Because I read it online in a blog from Rhode Island...

      Then it most likely must be. Because the overwhelming majority of the population actually is law abiding. Even in Rhode Island.

      Come to think of it, how ever are going to tell a joke on line? The chicken with almost absolute certainty did not cross the road!

      • by Kidbro (80868) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @07:16AM (#40465429)

        The chicken with almost absolute certainty did not cross the road!

        Why didn't the chicken cross the road?

        • The chicken with almost absolute certainty did not cross the road!

          Why didn't the chicken cross the road?

          IANAL but with Rhode Island legislation even I could stand a fair shot at getting you behind bars. Not that I would of course. 'Cause that would consist in me getting my finger prints taken at the US border. And I'm generally speaking a jovial sort of chap. If I may say so myself. As it were. So to speak.

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        Come to think of it, how ever are going to tell a joke on line? The chicken with almost absolute certainty did not cross the road!

        "Under which circumstances or with what purpose would a hypothetic chicken have crossed a road, if such chicken had indeed crossed such road, hypothesis with no known basis on any fact or occurrence? The character hereby presented as "the chicken" does not represent any specific existing or imaginary chicken nor, metaphorically, any other being. Notice that the nature of the road has been purposefully excluded from the question to enhance it's humorous nature."

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @05:47AM (#40465041)
    I suspect that it wouldn't have stood up in court anyway. Surely it would be unconstitutional. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to lie.
    • Freedom of speech includes the freedom to lie.

      Yes, you're free to do so...you're not free to do it without consequences in certain circumstances, though.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Fraud, perjury, libel, slander, making false statements.

    • by operagost (62405)
      Your freedom to lie stops at my face... or something.
  • From the article: '"This law made virtually the entire population of Rhode Island a criminal," said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union

    Does he claim all of them are liars? Good thing it was Rhode Island. Them fighting words in Arkansas and Texas.

    • He's wrong, to boot. As a former Rhode Islander I can say we were mostly all criminals before this law was enacted anyway.

  • Registration (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @06:39AM (#40465281)

    One part of protecting one's privacy is not to give real data on registration forms. Technically, a sort of lying.

  • Back in 1989... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @07:22AM (#40465457)

    RI resident here...

    Let me think about what we had back in 1989...

    In South County RI, we had a handful of BBSes and URI's access to Bitnet if you had an academic account or begged for one, not even the Internet. Everyone was still at 300, 1200, and a few at 2400, and almost nobody had v32 (9600bps) modems because they were new in 1989 and ridiculously expensive.

    If you had more money than sense, you subscribed to CompuServe, Prodigy, or GEnie (to be called AOL later) and paid by the minute and also paid for the long distance to the Warwick or Providence numbers (Yay in-state long distance in a state only 47 miles the long way!). BBSes were free.

    The community was so small. You could literally visit all the boards from Block Island to East Greenwich and read all the messages in an hour if you ignored the redialling. We also didn't have OmniNet or LOCNet yet to tie north/south RI and the Islands/East Bay together yet. That had to wait for the heyday of BBSes in the early 90s, and even then, you could fit everyone who cared about OmniNet administration (north AND south!) into one Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor (we couldn't meet at Casey's because half of everyone was under-age).

    And everyone knew each other.

    There wasn't much to lie about online at all. Really, there wasn't. It puzzles me as to what prompted this legislation that far back.

    The only big whopper of a lie I remember was Matt saying his BBS couldn't be hacked, some time in the early 90s. This was a challenge to everyone at the meeting and pissed off his co-sys, who gave him up to the rest of us hyenas.

    Shout out to LizardKing on here, who is the only RIer I know on here from that era.

    --
    BMO

    • by bindir (63128)

      Great breakdown of how things were in your state. One of the perks of having a state the size of RI, everyone in your online community could actually know each other!

    • by BaronM (122102)

      Former RI resident here.

      I remember way too many hours logged into IDS and Off Broadway BBS and, yeah, actually meeting up with the community IRL. That and Commodore Users' Group meetings in Hoxie Four Corners.

      • by bmo (77928)

        I was in North Kingstown, so I also called up IDS and Off Broadway, but anything in Warwick was TOO FAH. LizardKing on here ran The Lair of the Lizard King BBS in 884-land and thus was the node for OmniNet that allowed traffic to northern RI from South County.

        Many hours dialled into the MicroVax at IDS before Andy went legal and many hours after, into the used Vax 11/781 washing machine. Some nice IDS and LOCnet cookouts at Ft. Wetherill. "Hey, let's go watch those people jump off the cliff." - soon to f

    • by operagost (62405)
      I find it terribly amusing that a state government renowned for its corruption would pass legislation against lying.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That would mean, unfortunately, that Scientology is allowed again in RI. Certainly they were prosecuted in Rhode Island for their blatant lies and deception?

    Hail Xenu!

  • I was all set up to sell online sarcasm detection software in RI.

  • This is awesome for Curt Schilling. Now he can embellish his bloggy arse off until the cows come home about what a heroic job creator he is and not have to worry about getting nicked for it.

  • by retroworks (652802) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @08:37AM (#40465927) Homepage Journal
    It was one of many examples of democracies trying to "simplify" our decisions with a rule or law. If you ask a majority of people what should be "allowed" they will create a set of rules which not even Nazis and Maoists can successfully regulate. Three strikes and you're out laws lead to medical marijuana and Supreme Court "cruel and unusual" laws overturned. Society desperately needs "depth perception", the ability to implement laws and regulation based on 1) priority of risk, and 2) feasibility of regulating. The "risks" posed by X (lying on the internet, gay or interracial marriage, immigration, piracy, smoking pot) are nothing compared to the risk of society with a power to ban them or the power of the mafia to corrupt that regulation. Society's cognitive risk dissonance has created thousands of laws just as silly as this Rhode Island example. We need to start at the top and prioritize real risks and feasible enforcement.
    • by Loughla (2531696)
      I like what you're saying, but really,

      We need to start at the top and prioritize real risks and feasible enforcement.

      How do you expect to do this? My priorities on what is important and what are real risks aren't the same as yours. This would just create a cycle of break it down, build it up, break it down. Which is, I believe, what we already do, correct? So what are our other options? Again, I like the idea of what you're saying, but the implementation seems to be impossible.

      • I agree with your sentiment. But interested parties "market" the risks to affect peoples perceptions. We need third party evaluation of actual risks. Do gay marriages or freedom to own guns REALLY pose a risk to me?
    • . Society's cognitive risk dissonance has created thousands of laws just as silly as this Rhode Island example.

      Strange how, despite that, the only ones you can list are the ones on the liberal hate list right now. Please tell me you can use other examples, and that you're not just a puppet on one side of the political divide.

      • Guns.
        • Come on, that's on the liberal hate list (although it's an issue more divided by rural/city). It's been a hot topic for years.
          • Duh. Follow the conversation. It's about laws designed to restrict X which result in XXX. Marijuana, Guns. Dugh. Find the bias.
            • I've found your bias. You can't think of any example that doesn't have to do with recent hot topics. You are shallow. Do you know anything about history, or do you get all your information from political sycophants and people trying to manipulate you?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does that mean sending a 0 over the internet was illegal?

  • Oh shit! I lie online ALL THE TIME! In fact, I am telling a lie right now!
  • ... the argument is that the facilitation of falsehood, generally quite strictly proscribed in philosophical contexts, is simply a nod-nod-wink-wink affair?
  • Actually, the law said it was a misdemeanor to "intentionally send false data". Now, you could parse that as "(intentionally) (send false data)", but you could also parse that as "(intentionally send) (false data)". Under the second parsing, it would be a crime not only to lie, but even to be mistaken about something!
  • or is anyone else concerned about the implications of this law and its interaction with a corporation's on-line presence? It seems too easy to justify false claims in on-line discussions/reviews with this sort of thing. Maybe I misread this article, and it really does just apply to individual people and not businesses, but I didn't see that anywhere.

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