Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On The Endangered Species List...

...Freedom of Speech!

A couple of items have caught my eye, both thanks to The Religious Policeman.

The first one was in a post he did on Sunday, January 08, 2006, entitled "Anonymous Blogging Guide." Alhamedi's blog does not link to individual posts, so you'll have to scroll around until you find this one. As you love what's left of your freedom of speech, it's worth your time to read what he says.

In that post, he links to this article that names five countries in the world where you can go to prison, or worse, for blogging (and then helps people in those countries set up blogs that are as anonymous as it's possible to be). Incredible, no?

Incredible, yes!

Never happen here, right?

...*not so fast...*

In the comments on that post, one of Alhamedi's commenters sent in this link to a news item that just may have been overlooked by most of the MSM.

Blogging has now joined the ranks of possible criminal activity in the good ol' USA, if you blog anonymously:

Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.

It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.

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.


To grease the rails for this idea, Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, and the section's other sponsors slipped it into an unrelated, must-pass bill to fund the Department of Justice. The plan: to make it politically infeasible for politicians to oppose the measure.

The tactic worked. The bill cleared the House of Representatives by voice vote, and the Senate unanimously approved it Dec. 16 (2005).

Go read the whole article. Then ask yourself if you need to worry.

I can imagine that a lot of you are saying, "But I'm not blogging anonymously, so I don't have to worry."

Two thoughts: Think of this as only the first step! And then, will the time ever come when you might want to make anonymous comments on whatever forum in order to hide your identity to protect your job or your family?

And, as Declan McCullagh asks, who gets to define what is meant by "annoy?"

I can also imagine that a lot of you are saying, "But this is Canada, and the law only applies in the United States."

For you, I have two words: Marc Emery.

But you know what little bit on info I found to be the most amazing? I found this news article on a link by an anonymous commenter on a post by a blogger in the United Kingdom!


Blogger DazzlinDino said...

Verrrry interesting, a law such as this could put MyBlahg right out of business....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 5:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Could put a lot of people right out of business. But I think MyBlahg would be okay under this law, because Robert is not anonymous. Anonalogue, on the other hand, is lookin' at serious jail time...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 6:04:00 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

That is very interesting, and a bit alarming. (A bit because it's the US and not Canada, but you have a point re Marc Emery, much as I dislike to admit it)

Thursday, January 12, 2006 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger DazzlinDino said...

Anon out of business.....Zorph could fix that....

Sunday, January 15, 2006 11:16:00 AM  

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