from the good-luck----that's-like-half-the-internet dept
High school junior Kelsey Upton was puzzled. Why was a stranger from Iowa sending her a text message?Well, the Uptons are in luck. Sort of. The Agitator informs us that Georgia State Representative Pam Dickerson is looking to close this legal loophole by making it illegal to "intentionally cause an unknowing person wrongfully to be identified as the person in an obscene depiction in such a manner that a reasonable person would conclude that the image depicted was that of the person so wrongfully identified." This would include using a person's name, telephone number, address or email address.
Her confusion turned to terror last fall when she learned that the person who had sent the message had plucked her personal information from a pornographic website. Without her knowledge, someone had placed her name and phone number on the site next to a photo of a naked woman, in an explicit position, who somewhat resembled her.
Her father, a federal investigator who previously worked for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, traced the posting to a Citadel cadet, with the help of law enforcement officials. But to their dismay, Upton and her father learned that no crime was committed. Now Randy and Kelsey Upton, who live in Oxford, Ga., plan to meet with legislators and other public officials to try to make such actions a crime. "I want him arrested," said Kelsey Upton, now 17. "But if that won't happen, I want a law about this so someone doesn't just get a slap on the wrist."
However, Dickerson feels that isn't enough. She then adds:
"Such identification shall also include the electronic imposing of the facial image of a person onto an obscene depiction."Now, rather than just closing an unfortunate hole in Georgia's libel laws, Dickerson is aiming to make a pastime as old as the internet itself, photoshopping celebrities' heads onto porn stars' bodies, a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Now, I'm not here to suggest that the long and storied history of creating celebupr0n makes this a part of our rich cultural heritage and an unassailable act of free speech. What I am suggesting, however, is this:
1. Creating a law to deal with a very specific set of actions with no real precedence or evidence of mass abuse is the sort of thing that creates legal clutter and goes a long way towards explaining why it's illegal to tie your alligator to a fire hydrant in Michigan.
2. Existing libel/defamation laws should already be handling Photoshopped head transfers. There's really no reason to take this from the civil arena and turn it into a criminal act.
3. It looks as if the Citadel is already planning on handling this internally as an issue between two cadets. Adding another law to the books is redundant at best and, at worst, is just encouraging people to holler for new laws every time they've been wronged.
4. If this law goes through, it will be subject to endless expansion, much in the way cyberbullying legislation has been stretched to cover such ridiculous acts as eye rolling and so-called "deliberate exclusion." Offended citizens who find themselves photoshopped into other (non-sexual) compromising positions, like say, having their male heads attached to clothed female bodies or made to appear as though they endorse businesses and lifestyles that they clearly don't, will feel the law doesn't go far enough. The internet is a very inventive place while most lawmakers are not.
5. It will be ridiculed mercilessly. See also this post (possibly NSFW) and this clip (possibly not safe for your brain):