Thursday, January 29, 2009

CT Representative Begins An Effort to Censor Cyberspace

Connecticut State Representative David Scribner of the 107th District (R) seems to be on a quest to attack our 1st Amendment rights. His office claims that he introduced the bill on behalf of one of his constituents. Apparently a girl was harassed via email to the point that she killed herself. Now I don't claim to know the circumstances of this one event and I am sorry for her and her family - but did she complain to anyone? like the police department? was she on any psychotropic medications that might have made her suicidal? She could have just closed her email account. Who knows, but now we have this dangerous bill in the General Assembly's machinery and it really ought to be dumped.

This takes the form of proposed state bill HR 6181:
The bill has been referred to Committee on Judiciary

This is what the bill says:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That chapter 952 of the general statutes be amended to establish the crime of cyber harassment that occurs when a person, for the purpose of frightening or disturbing another person, transmits or causes the transmission of an electronic communication, or knowingly permits an electronic communication to be transmitted to another person from an electronic communications device under his or her control, (1) using coarse language offensive to a person of average sensibility, (2) anonymously or repeatedly whether or not a conversation occurs, or (3) threatens to commit any felony; and that any person who commits cyber harassment shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor unless such person is twenty-one years of age or older and the crime is committed against a person under seventeen years of age, in which case such person shall be guilty of a class D felony.

Statement of Purpose:

To establish the crime of cyber harassment.

Wow, can you just imagine the potential for abuse here?
I know we are fed up with emails pushing Viagra and informing us of lottery winnings and schools have had it with students calling administrators "douche bags" (recall the Avery Donninger case), but this is absurd and patently unconstitutional.

And what definition will they allow for what constitutes "disturbing someone"? or what is offensive? What exactly is "average sensibility" these days? (ever watch TV? looks like average sensibilities go pretty far nowadays)

This is a CT bill to keep an eye on!
Maybe some of you out there who are interested in this can contact Rep. Scribner and set him straight on the concept of freedom of speech and ask him to withdraw this bill. We really don't need to set up an Internet Police squad in Connecticut.

List of House members
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