Arizona seeks to stop cyber-bullying one ambiguous law at a time
I applaud Arizona lawmakers for taking the parental approach to ending the amount of epic cyber-bullying and cyber-attacking that occurs.
Really, I do.
The house bill 2549 in the State of Arizona House of Representatives is seeking to amend sections 13-2916 and 13-2923, to read:
“13-2916. Use of an electronic or digital device to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend; classification; definition
A. 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. It is also unlawful to otherwise disturb by repeated anonymous telephone calls electronic or digital communications the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person at the place where the telephone call or callscommunications were received.”
While I commend Arizona on its Pleasantville approach to electronic and digital communications, the problem is that words such as “intimidate”, “annoy”, and “offend” are so ambiguous they might as well not even be allowed in legislation.
Anytime someone posts a comment in a discussion board, on a product or business Facebook page, or anything similar, with an intent to get their point across (which, also includes points and moments of annoyance and offense) would, under this amended law, be a misdemeanor.
And, the fact that they make it unlawful to disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy by repeated anonymous acts where the communication received is pushing it just a bit.
Anytime I am poked via Facebook by the creepy guy that I met at the bar, or the desperate football player in class, my online moment of serenity is disturbed.
Thanks Arizona for bringing me back to my mental oasis.
The problem with bills such as these is that while they mean well, so does my mom when she places ambiguous rules on me. The beauty in first amendment rights as they relate to social media is that the line between liberal language in discussing individual views, and annoying or offensive language is blurred.
And guess what, whether its legislation via Arizona or rules with ambiguous language (i.e. every rule) enforced by mom, unless there is common ground and explicit language that defines terms such as annoying or offensive, we will all end up confused, unhappy, and in court debating how many Facebook pokes are deemed offensive.
I’m sure I can find something better to do with my time.