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Crank Blogging, Like Phone Calling, Now Illegal 666

On Thursday, President Bush signed into law a must-pass DoJ appropriations bill which contained a little gotcha for the internet. For decades, making anonymous abusive phone calls has been a federal crime, good for up to two years behind bars -- and the term "abusive" has included threats, harassment, and the much weaker "intent to annoy." Now, that telecommunications law has been extended to include the Internet, so when you post an anonymous troll to wind up your least-favorite blogger, you may break the law. This is silly: the law needs to start taking into account the qualitative differences between things like telephones, email inboxes, blogs, and IM accounts. A 3 AM phone call is different from a post to calling me a jerk. I don't need federal protection from that Night Elf who keeps /chickening my Orc.
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Crank Blogging, Like Phone Calling, Now Illegal

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  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @01:18PM (#14428520) Journal
    You're getting quite a few false positives in both columns by not putting things in quotes. Try this version [].
  • by arbitraryaardvark ( 845916 ) <gtbear AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 09, 2006 @01:36PM (#14428686) Homepage Journal
    Is this an article or an opinion piece (ie. Slashdot via FoxNews)?
    Yes. It's by Declan McCullagh. Declan is an advocacy journalist. A traditional journalist would have been less likely to know about and Thomas's concurrence in McIntyre v Ohio Elections Commission.
    Declan runs the politech list, and writes for Cnet.
    If I recall correctly, he was a student government leader at Carnegie-Mellon when a free-speech controvery happened there, and parlayed that into a job with Time magazine.
    Slashdot readers may remember his interview with FEC commissioner Brad Smith, which set off a firestorm of bloggers versus the FEC.
    He's also a photojournalist, visit his web page for photos of geeks.

    His coverage suggests that Spectre, and the congress, have once again violated their oaths of office. That annoys me.
    At [] I have links to the 4 major cases that uphold the right to be anonymous and annoying. I litigate in this area, but not very effectively. I'd be willing to work with people who want to challenge this statute. - arbitrary aardvark.
  • by stupidfoo ( 836212 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @01:48PM (#14428805)
    It should also be noted that every single one of his articles takes pot shots at repubs and especially the Bush admin, whether they are warranted or not. This one was no exception. The law is portrayed as being pushed through the congress by those tricky freedom hating republicans, even though it was approved unanimously.

    As a regular reader of his it gets rather annoying and distracting and it diminishes the effectiveness of the arguments he tries to make.
  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @01:57PM (#14428899) Journal
    This rider, I think, was originally intended to extend harassment laws to VOIP.

    Somehow (gee, I wonder) it got kinda screwed up on the way to the bill, and now inludes all internet communication.
  • by wurp ( 51446 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @02:10PM (#14429019) Homepage
    Maybe you could actually address the real point of this post?

    He said:
                You could certainly argue that this law in particular perhaps goes too far, but you're almost saying it's OK to harass people, until some company invents technology that you can purchase to stop harassment. That is just plain silly.

    You said:
                Fine. I'll pay $6 for a caller ID box and $24 a year for piece of mind. You want to pay for bureaucracy and red tape and non-effective unconstitutional legislation? You should pay your share of what you use, I'd like to bow out of it.

    What does your response have to do with his comment? He is saying that your philosophy, as you phrased it, implies that you don't believe we should be protected from harassment unless there is a non-governmental way of doing it. You are not addressing his point that it is "just plain silly" to argue that the only allowed way to protect from harassment is through the market.

    Now, it so happens that I agree with you that the DoJ has gone way beyond what the constitution allows, and that too many powers have bubbled up to the federal level. I even agree with you that the market is likely a better solution to harassing phone calls than legislation, although I think it is worth debating.

    I do not agree that "the market" is the way to solve every problem, or even the problem of harassment in general.
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Monday January 09, 2006 @02:24PM (#14429160) Homepage Journal
    There are a LOT of Federal Crimes on the books with which the DOJ is charged with enforcing and prosecuting.

    Unconstitutional federal crimes, right?

    Based on what you said the Feds could never have gone after Enron, Worldcomm or others except on SEC crimes like stock fraud.

    Actually, Enron and Worldcomm used powerful lawyers and accountants to find loopholes in the SEC rules -- loopholes that did exist. I blame the SEC for overregulating accounting practices that end up costing consumers tens of billions of dollars in higher costs and less choice.

    They could have never prosecuted the KKK

    I'm not sure what the KKK did that was a federal crime. Anything the KKK might have done that was illegal would be better suited in State or County court.

    they could have never enforced Handgun Registrations,

    I'm against registering handguns and I believe handgun registrations are tyrannical.

    or broken up Chid Porn rings

    This is a State crime per the 9th and 10th amendments.

    or intercept drugs from Colombia.

    The War on Drugs is a war on freedoms. I don't do drugs but I support the right of others to.

    The DOJ is the parent organization of the FBI, Civil Rights, BATF,DEA and many others.

    Civil Rights laws are unconstitutional and these laws were passed in order to combat other bad laws of government. On top of that many Civil Rights legislations makes it harder to hire minorities. The FBI, the BATF and the DEA are unconstitutional.

    Take a look at [] Therefore your post is 99.75% WRONG QED

    You mean DED because I just showed you all the unconstitutional departments the DOJ supports.

    I'm surprised you have so much time to post on /. on such topics since you are supposed to be managing a LOT of projects and putting in mega-hours to earn your 60% profit margins in your consulting business.

    Actually, I'm waiting for my barber to free up for the past 45 minutes. Nice to have slashdot on the go so I can take are of e-mails, handle questions from customers and browse slashdot while I make money. What are you doing?
  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Monday January 09, 2006 @02:28PM (#14429199) Homepage Journal
    "Government is not free and in fact costs way more than competitive services."

    This is a myth.
    Another myth is that it is wastefull. All the government accounts are available. I suggest you look at what you get for your dollar, and how much is wasted. It's all public information.

    you say: "I'll pay $6 for a caller ID box and $24 a year for piece of mind. "
    now multiply that by every phone. Lets call it 100,000,000 phone in the US. Your solution is 3 Billion dollars a year.

    "Government doesn't support everyone -- in fact laws are fairer to those who can afford a lawyer."
    no. The laws are equally fair, the system favors those who can get a lawyer. A very important difference.

    "Not everyone can go and sue someone for harassing them. If someone harasses you a few times from an unknown number, good luck getting the cops to stop them."

    This really depends on what you are considering harassing. If I call to ask if your refrigerator is running is one thing, if I call and threaten you it is another. IF you are recieving threatening phone call, there is action you can take.

    Now, this bill was createed to prevent Voip harrasment. You think getting email spam was bad, Voip spam will be a lot more annoying. In fact, once it gets going it will probably kill voip.
    Unfortuantly the internet changes pretty fast, and in an attempt to cover all the situations it is too wide.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2006 @02:32PM (#14429245)
    If you're going to throw false claims around, at least spell dissent correctly, since you're using it.

    Lets start with Bill Clinton refusing to take Osama Bin Laden after he had blown up several of our overseas locations, when offered by a north african country that had captured him. Or maybe about how an army intelligence group saw the hijackers for 9/11 enter the country and were forbidden to tell the FBI or go to jail because of the separation of the intelligence community.

    Don't forget John Kerry is a war criminal if you believe what he claims he did in vietnam, go listen to his testimony.

    George Bush didn't lie, to lie you have to know the opposite. When 3 of the top intelligence agencies in the world say "Yes he has them", and yours another supposed top agency says probably, you probably believe it.
  • Re:sneaky sneaky (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xantharus ( 860986 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @02:53PM (#14429443)
    A line item veto can get out of hand and become really silly if given enough time aswell. Wisconsin has had the Line-Item veto for a long time, and former Governor (and former HHS secretary) Thompson had a knack for what was known as 'The Wheel of Fortune Veto' around those parts.

    He would regularly take out words such as "not" or edit the phrase "Program X gets $A dollars of funding, and Program Y gets $B dollars of funding" to "Program X gets $AB Dollars of funding". We dont need that silly "dollars of funding, and Program Y gets $". Or just remove the "not" in 'the state may not raise taxes'. Other days he would get creative and just completely slice and dice words apart and together to create statements that were nowhere near the original passage of the bill.

    Then it takes a 2/3 vote to override the veto, which of course is nearly impossible to do, especially in Washington.
  • Bad Analysis? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jufineath ( 624014 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @03:13PM (#14429616) Homepage
    Is it just me or does this law not actually apply to the Internet in general?

    I mean, read the definitions, and where it says an interactive computer service doesn't count, and then where it says an interactive computer service includes the Internet.
  • Re:sneaky sneaky (Score:3, Informative)

    by AeroIllini ( 726211 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `inilliorea'> on Monday January 09, 2006 @03:25PM (#14429722)
    He would regularly take out words such as "not" or edit the phrase "Program X gets $A dollars of funding, and Program Y gets $B dollars of funding" to "Program X gets $AB Dollars of funding". We dont need that silly "dollars of funding, and Program Y gets $".

    That's just an example of a poorly implimented veto law.

    The word "Veto" does not imply that the president can change the wording of the law. It is a yes or no question. Veto really works like this:
    "Mr. President, Congress just voted to pass this law. Do you agree?"
    "Yes." (Law is passed.)
    "No." (Law is vetoed.)
    There is no room in there for an answer like, "Yes, but only if blah blah blah is changed to blah blah."

    So, in the same vein, line item vetoing would be a yes or no question, but for each line.
    Line 285: Program X gets $A of funding
    Line 286: Program Y gets $B of funding
    Line 287: The Supreme Court will heretofore be known as the "Poopyhead Patrol"

    And the President then gets to say either yes or no to each of the lines. He would NOT get to reword any of the text, as that would require a new bill in Congress.

    Anything else upsets the checks and balances between the President and Congress with regards to lawmaking.
  • by Yurka ( 468420 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @04:01PM (#14430048) Homepage
    At some point, the decent folk at ColumbiaHouse and similar outfits, annoyed that their no-postage-necessary return envelopes were being used to throw their junk in their faces, took to printing on them in red letters something to the effect "if you try and send us stuff in this envelope anonymously, we're gonna get you".
  • by technothrasher ( 689062 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @04:01PM (#14430051)
    THANK YOU for referring to The united States of America as a republic and NOT as a democracy. I am so SICK of hearing every pundit, politician, and 'journalist' trying to brainwash us into thinking that we live in a democracy.

    What the heck are you whining about? A republic is often, and definitely in the case of the US, also a representative democracy. The two terms are not mutually exclusive. If you're getting all pissy because you think the use of the word democracy should refer soley to direct democracies and no other forms, that's an issue you need to work through with your therapist.

  • Re:So wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by numatrix ( 242325 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @04:13PM (#14430149)

    Oh wow, I love this game, it's a lot of fun! It's called: let's put words in judges mouths. From your article, here's why Alito actually dissented:

    I would reverse the order of the District Court and di- rect that summary judgment be entered in favor of the de- fendants. First, the best reading of the warrant is that it au- thorized the search of any persons found on the premises. Second, even if the warrant did not contain such autho- rization, a reasonable police officer could certainly have read the warrant as doing so, and therefore the appellants are entitled to qualified immunity.

    I haven't read the actual warrant, so I have no idea who I'd side with. But I'll wager you haven't either. All I know is that the issue has nothing to do with Alito wanting to see little girls strip-searched or not, but was instead a ruling on a specific warrant, how it was phrased, and how it was executed.

  • by GileadGreene ( 539584 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @04:52PM (#14430496) Homepage
    Not all libertarians believe in having no government. Libertarians in general are for a "minimal" government. There's a lot of debate between the various stripes of libertarians (anarcho-capitalists, market anarchists, minarchists, etc.) as to what actually constitutes "minimal". Some think that they can get away with no government. Others want government limited to providing courts and police (and maybe some military for national self-defense). There's plenty of shades of gray in between. About the only thing I've really seen libertarians agree on is that power in the hands of a government tends to be misused and abused, so keeping that power as limited as possible (for some definition of possible) is a good thing.
  • Re:So wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by loginx ( 586174 ) <xavier@w[ ].org ['uug' in gap]> on Monday January 09, 2006 @09:53PM (#14432608) Homepage
    No, actually, I was being sarcastic...
    I meant a fake judgement that will determine THAT you are guilty.

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