Texas Politicians Want To Make It A Felony To Create Intimidating Fake Online Profiles

from the if-you-intimidate,-please-be-real dept

The latest in a long line of questionable "cyberbullying" legislation has shown up in Texas, where the legislature has approved a bill that would make it a felony to create a fake social networking profile with intent to "harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten" anyone. Of course, that seems rather broad. Oddly, the article doesn't mention the Lori Drew case (Update: actually, it does mention Lori Drew at the bottom... but says this law wouldn't apply, because it only applies to fake profiles of "real people"), though, it does mention the Tony La Russa/Twitter legal battle, even though it's difficult to think any court would rule a parody profile as being with intent to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten. Of course, even if the bill is signed into law, Eric Goldman notes that it would likely have trouble surviving much of a challenge, pointing out the oddity of singling out "social networking sites" and (more importantly) the fact that any such law would likely ban all sorts of protected free speech. Still, "anti-cyberbullying" laws are all the rage these days, and politicians want to make sure they can tell constituents that they're out there "protecting the children," so expect to see plenty more of this type of legislation.


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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 10:55am

    How they would enforce it, who knows? The idea is pretty good though. The wild west mentality of the net needs a little toning down.

     

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 11:14am

      Re:

      "The idea is pretty good though. The wild west mentality of the net needs a little toning down."

      Says the Anonymous Coward. LMAO.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 11:19am

        Re: Re:

        yeah, I am really screwing it up for all the other anonymous cowards out there, right? Perhaps they will all sue me.

        remember, puff, puff, pass it to the left.

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 11:15am

      Re:

      If you think that, then you don't fully appreciate and understand what the Internet is.

       

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      identicon
      Fake Profiles R Us, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

      Re: You are a moron

      Anonymous Coward sez:
      How they would enforce it, who knows? The idea is pretty good though. The wild west mentality of the net needs a little toning down.
      Okay genius, start by giving all of us your real name, address, phone number, email addresses, and other relevant info. The wild west mentality of the net needs a little toning down, and we want to start with you.

       

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    Rebel Freek (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    "How do you use this thing?"
    "You point this end at something and pull that other thing"
    "so what happens when I point this end towards me?"
    "You go off to a magical place"
    "I want to go to (where ever)" Bang...
    I only dream it was that easy to take out some of these morons writing laws....

     

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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    What article did you read?

    Oddly, the article doesn't mention the Lori Drew case...

    Umm...the article you linked to did mention the Lori Drew case. It said that the law would not be applicable in that situation because the fake profile was not an actual person. It seems the legislation is aimed at making it illegal for someone else to make a profile impersonating another actual person and using it for said purposes. More of an identity theft thing. But I still see issues with the parody profiles or the freedom of a *sucks profile. Sure these could "harm", as you said, very broad and will open up to definition and feed the lawyers.

     

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    Nikki, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    I think this is start to a good law against internet fraud. The rest of the country should follow along. Nikki selling photography 101 1 dollar ebooks

     

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    Justin Dessonville (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    Already Crimes/Civil No No's

    Isn't there already some precedent for this type of behavior. Harassing/Assaulting someone outside of the online world is a crime, isn't it? And libel is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    With these positions already in place, what's the point of this bill?

     

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      Rebel Freek (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 11:41am

      Re: Already Crimes/Civil No No's

      "To save the children!" Which translates to "I am a greedy bastard that uses children to grandstand pointless on pointless bills that do more harm then good and waste taxpayer dollars..."

       

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      CommonSense (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 11:41am

      Re: Already Crimes/Civil No No's

      "With these positions already in place, what's the point of this bill?"

      (re-) Election.

       

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    Overcast (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    Why? some politician find out the 'chick' he was flirting with was really a 50 year old guy? lol

     

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      chris (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

      Re:

      Why? some politician find out the 'chick' he was flirting with was really a 50 year old guy? lol

      everyone on the internet is 50 year old fat guy named morty. especially women.

       

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    Vic, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    Damn!

    There goes my plan to set up an account as a Captain Hook to scare and intimidate my kids!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 12:58pm

    Step 1:
    Understand that Texas doesn't report anything negative pertaining to Republicans, and this affects their world view. (This is odd, considering the current state of affairs in Texas.)

    Step 2:
    Research and realize that the police in Texas are more crooked than the criminals they lock up and the judges they appoint. Look into Marshall, TX.

    Step 3:
    Realize that the past 8 years were done under Texas Law.

    Step 3:
    Understand that Texas views, as shaped by the media (see #1), are not the views of America as a whole.

    Step 4:
    Create profiles like 'mmasnick' when they first come available. Use the name Mich Masnickoloski with passwords like 'carlocarlocarlo' This is only done at websites that they own. More of a term of endearment than anything else. See what they do.

    Step 5:
    Show America how Fucked up Texas is.

    Step 6:
    Support Texas Succession.

     

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      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 2:15pm

      Re: Unsupported Judgement by a liberal AC

      Step 7: Repeat Steps 1-6 until you believe them.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2009 @ 12:21am

        Re: Re: Unsupported Judgement by a liberal AC

        Step 8:

        Realize anything labeled "Texas" such as
        "Texas" Toast,
        "Texas" BBQ,
        "Texas" Asshat,
        "Texas" Waffles,
        "Texas" Ego,
        "Texas" Justice

        Is really, a ploy to find out how willing you are to give up what you believe in.

        Yes, everything is bigger in Texas. Especially the women. Tell me about your woman, Chuck? Does she Toast/BBQ/Asshat much?

         

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      Jason, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 2:51pm

      Re:

      Nevermind that the judge in Marshall,TX causing the most problems today wasn't appointed to the job by Texans, but by Bill Clinton.

       

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    Ben, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 2:18pm

    Texas Taliban Terrorism..

    We is gonna save dem childrens frum dem bad pipples on duh innernets.

    We is gonna exacoot evvy ones ov dem!

     

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    Jorge, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 3:34pm

    Not Infringe Free Speech

    Actually, dude, it does NOT infringe free speech. While anonymous speech is protected, pretending to be someone else is not, and never has been constitutionally protected.

    Defamation, for example, is not protected by the First Amendment. Likewise, false light (a form of invasion of privacy) is also not protected (Pretending to be someone online usually covers that), b/c the First Amendment does not protect false speech.

    Note: the difference between defamation and false light is (1) defamation must harm the target's representation and (2) only requires an audience of one third party -- false light requires a widespread dissemination of the misleading/false statements, but those statements don't have to harm the target.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 6:15pm

    How do they intend to enforce this upon someone in say ... Nigeria ?

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2009 @ 12:23am

    Don't mess with Texas you say?

    Who wants to?

    GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY

     

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