04-09-2012 07:21 PM
Members of the Arizona House and Senate will review a recently passed anti-cyberstalking bill after critics raised concerns that it's so broad it could authorize arrests for online "trolls" who write mean comments on social media and news sites.
State Rep. Chad Campbell, a co-sponsor of the bill, told Yahoo News that lawmakers are trying "to address the constitutional concerns" raised by First Amendment advocates and are looking at making some changes. "This bill was only intended to go after people who are engaging in digital stalking, nothing more. If it can't be fixed to address the constitutional concerns then I will be voting no on it," he wrote in an email.
In March, Arizona politicians overwhelmingly voted to update an old statute that prohibited harassment and stalking by telephone to also include Internet communications, in an effort to combat cyberbullying. The new statute says it's illegal for anyone to use profane or lewd language on an electronic device with the intent to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend." The statute also makes it a crime for someone to infringe upon the "peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person" by "repeated anonymous electronic or digital communications."
One of the key problems with the statute, according to legal experts, is that the law is not limited to one-to-one communications, such as emails, Facebook messages or texts. That means someone's offensive tweets, comments or any other publicly available online words could fall under the law
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