It's being coined as the e-annoyance law. As C-Net reported , this law which was signed in January states that if you are going to send an annoying email or comment on a blog, you better not do it anonymously.
"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.
"The use of the word 'annoy' is particularly problematic," says Marv Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "What's annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else."
Over at What Pisses You Off which bills itself as the Best Damn Debate Forum, the posters are debating the issue.
Ray says," If the ISPs hadn't been so intransigent when people complained about TOS
violations, and terminated accounts when it was clearly warranted, the new
law would not have been necessary."
Chadwick Stone replied, "Your silly little law wont silence:
1. Non-anonymous poasters
2. Poasters living outside of the U.S.
3. Poasters in the U.S. who realize that it it is unenforceable due to
it contradicting your first amendment
The thought of any prosecutor coming after an individual who posts an annoying comment to a blog is very funny(can you say the delete button) if it weren't so sad. As the C-net article states,
"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.) "
Taking it a step further, does this mean that when journalists quotes a " high ranking member of the justice department" could those anonymous comments fall under this law? It was bad enough when journalists are hauled in front of a grand jury to disclose sources. Now, under the e-annoyance law, they may not even be able to quote them.