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January 09, 2006

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\_escarpment

Bit of a misleading article from what I've been reading in the follow up. It appears that the only thing the provision really changed was adding the internet to the list of means a person can stalk another (probably in regards to the rise in use of VoIP). The provision adds changes to the 1996 amendment of the 1934 Telecommunication Act - so the wording has been in place for over 70 years.

Dirk Deppey

Likewise, while it's fashionable to assume that every new law is an attempt by those devil Bushies to have the Ministry of Love clamp the ratcage to America's face, you'll note from the link that this particular add-on comes courtesy of nanny-state booster Arlen Specter -- as centrist-to-left-leaning a Republican as you're going to find, and hardly the Bush Administration's best friend, as watchers of hearings for Supreme Court nominees will attest -- and seems more aimed at cementing his hold on the Pennsylvania Soccer Mom vote than it does in making the Dick Cheney Fascist Conspiracy happy. I mean, I'm not too happy with this legislation either, but let's maintain some perspective, here.

Kenzo (lastever.org / kenzodb.com)

Escarpment: Can you provide a link? Let's all read it for ourselves!

Dick: Interesting, I didn't notice any Bush focusing, other than that he's the final person who signed it into law. It really hardly matters who, how or why at this point: Once it becomes law, anyone at any time in the present or future can use it to their benefit, regardless of the intentions of the people responsible for getting it passed.

\_escarpment

Here's the finalized version of Sec 113. Note that nowhere in there is the phrase "without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy" which the article states.

----------------------------------------
SEC. 113. PREVENTING CYBERSTALKING .

(a) In General- Paragraph (1) of section 223(h) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 223(h)(1)) is amended--

(1) in subparagraph (A), by striking `and' at the end;

(2) in subparagraph (B), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and'; and

(3) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

`(C) in the case of subparagraph (C) of subsection (a)(1), includes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet (as such term is defined in section 1104 of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (47 U.S.C. 151 note)).'.

(b) Rule of Construction- This section and the amendment made by this section may not be construed to affect the meaning given the term `telecommunications device' in section 223(h)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934, as in effect before the date of the enactment of this section.
------------------------------------------

Here's section 223(h) of the amended telecommunications act for reference:
------------------------------------------
(h) For purposes of this section--
(1) The use of the term ''telecommunications device'' in this section-
-
(A) shall not impose new obligations on broadcasting
station licensees and cable operators covered by obscenity and
indecency provisions elsewhere in this Act; and
(B) does not include an interactive computer service.
(2) The term ''interactive computer service'' has the meaning
provided in section 230(e)(2).
(3) The term ''access software'' means software (including client or
server software) or enabling tools that do not create or provide the content
of the communication but that allow a user to do any one or more of the
following:
(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search,
subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.
(4) The term ''institution of higher education'' has the meaning
provided in section 1201 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C.
1141).
(5) The term ''library'' means a library eligible for participation in
State-based plans for funds under title III of the Library Services and
Construction Act (20 U.S.C. 355e et seq.).
-----------------------------------------------

As terrible as the wording is (and the risk that it could be abused) the intent seems to be aimed towards repeat offenders and serious harrassment. The CNet piece would have you believe that you can no longer log on to a message board anonymously and flame someone without a visit from the law.

Kenzo (lastever.org / kenzodb.com)

Thanks for the follow up. Well, the absence of the language in that section is inconclusive, since we don't know what section Declan was quoting.

As for the intent, that is largely irrelevant. Good intentions are never embodied in laws. Once the law is written and passed, it can be used by anyone who follows the letter of the law. The spirit of the intent is rarely relevant at all. It is routine for laws that, on the surface, intend or appear to intend to be for particular purposes to be applied for other purposes. Thus, reading into laws to see all the possible abuses is quite important and appropriate.

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