Arizona Bill Outlaws Being Annoying Online

Critics say anti-trolling bill violates the First Amendment
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2012 3:15 PM CDT
Arizona Bill Outlaws Being Annoying Online
Being annoying on the Internet could soon be illegal in Arizona.   (Shutterstock)

Arizona is hunting trolls. The state's House and Senate have passed a bill that would make it illegal to post messages online "with the intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend," HLN reports. The bill is descended from old phone laws targeting prank callers and stalkers, but it's been drastically broadened. It's not, for example, restricted to one-on-one communication, so any online post that could potentially be considered annoying or offensive could theoretically be prosecuted.

The bill has, naturally, sparked an outcry, with critics saying it tramples on the First Amendment. The bill's supporters say they hear the concerns, and say there's time to change the bill before it hits Governor Jan Brewer's desk. "I think there's an easy fix to it," Rep. Chad Campbell told Arizona 12 News, saying that if there was anyone who didn't want online speech restricted, it was elected officials. "I'm sure many people would be annoyed by the things I send out." (More Arizona stories.)

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