Thursday, January 12, 2006

Don't hate me because I'm a blogger

It's clearly obvious to me that many bloggers enjoy spreading havoc across cyberspace either through lies, deceit, harassment, threats, libel or any other sordid means. As discussed in an earlier topic, difficulty in fighting a blog attack arises from specific laws protecting the digital community. Therefore, it's harder to fight the libel often found in these extreme blogs much less track down the typically anonymous bloggers.

As various legal measures are taken to protect the average citizen, bloggers (generally speaking) tend to pick up the torch for a warped belief that they have the right to, for example, essentially libel someone. In other words, there seems to be a disgusting trend that the rights of one person to attack another outweigh the victim's rights to defend themselves. This thought process runs parallel to some believing it is perfectly legal to download music or software they have no license for.

Here's what I found this evening:
"Whoever...utilizes 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... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
As Declan McCullagh writes, "This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison." Declan adds, "Think about it: A woman fired by a manager who demanded sexual favors wants to blog about it without divulging her full name. An aspiring pundit hopes to set up the next Suck.com. A frustrated citizen wants to send e-mail describing corruption in local government without worrying about reprisals. In each of those three cases, someone's probably going to be annoyed. That's enough to make the action a crime. (The Justice Department won't file charges in every case, of course, but trusting prosecutorial discretion is hardly reassuring.)"

Actually, the three examples given by Declan are ridiculous. Since a blog is something a person visits or stumbles upon as opposed to having forced into their life, there is no expection for criminal action to take place. The same goes for someone establishing suck.com or fark.com; these and other sites are not characterized as being transmitted and would potentially have additional protection by the same laws shielding Saturday Night Live, Hustler and Doonesbury. There is always that Constitutional amendment. What number is it again? Anyway, example three fails the test as well since the un-signed e-mail is not intended to annoy or harass anyone. As written, the e-mail is "describing corruption in local government." The author of that e-mail is doing their civic duty.

Sure, the law is open to abuse just as is any other law. The situation is not as dire (if at all) as Declan writes.

Now, annoy me with an e-mail or comment in response to this blog and the situation just might become dire.

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