Trolling in Arizona could get you 25 years in jail

Being anonymous on the internet can have its ups and downs. In the eyes of some people the ups outweigh the downs, since they can get away with saying things they would never say in the real world. Probably the best case in point for that argument is a popular YouTube video. It doesn't matter what video in particular, because there will always be a trolling comment if it has over 1,000,000 views. Consider the amount of trolls who use profane language when they are messing with others via the internet.

Arizona doesn't like this. In fact, as Gizmodo reports, they really don't like this. Some radical, sweeping reforms are in the pipeline for the state's telecommunications harassment bill, and these could actually make trolling a Class 1 misdemeanor: as in, you could be punished with a fine of up to $250,000 and six months in prison. All for one comment. The bill, known as Arizona House Bill 2549, passed legislation last Thursday. A Class 1 misdemeanor is the most aggressive misdemeanor offence the state can consider. All it takes now is the approval of Arizona's governor, Jan Brewer. Here's the excerpt which concerns the internet:

"It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use a ANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person."

That's right. If someone makes a "your mom" joke at you when playing on Xbox LIVE, and they happen to be from Arizona, you can completely dictate the flow of their life from then onwards. Oh, and if you happen to stalk a victim, it becomes a Class 3 felony. The minimum time for a Class 3 felony is 2.5 years imprisonment, even if you have nothing else on your record. Maximum? You're looking at 25 years in jail - and a smart lawyer could easily argue joining someone in a game and trolling is enough. The bill is worded just broadly enough to include one-to-one interaction, as well as publicly accessible websites, such as Reddit.

The offence only has to take place on Arizona's soil for it to be a crime in Arizona. Considering a Facebook comment can be accessed globally, they could well decide you're coming for a visit to the state because of a Facebook status speaking about someone else, or using profane language. There's a good chance this law might not go through, but you'd have to be insane to even consider trying to get it signed in the first place. Let us not forget that Arizona is the state which also was considering racial profiling, anti-gay adoption, and bills against immigration. All that's needed to stop the bill is Brewer refusing to sign it.

At the time of writing, you're still legally obliged to leave your thoughts on Governor Brewer's official Facebook page. Just be careful what you say, and how you say it. It's still legal at the moment to swear on a free medium like the internet but if Arizona has it their way, it might not be for much longer.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Windows 8 Firefox Metro screenshots hit the web

Next Story

German scriptwriters attack internet users over copyright

53 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

People in the UK have been jailed for trolling, in one of the instances was a troll who posted a p/shopped picture of a girl who had been accidentally shot, the troll was jailed,

Every time I play a online game, i am going to ask if the person is from Arizona, and if they are..I will just disconnect..lmao

jd100 said,
America isn't the free country so many think we are. How are we any different than China? We aren't.

First its just Arizona, and second this is just a proposal. It doesn't have a snowball's chance of becoming a law, it is clearly unconstitutional (and insane).

So, with the upcoming elections...if I lived in AZ and got a call, saw a tv ad, or heard a radio announcement which "offended" me - that group and/or campaigning person is facing a quarter million dollar fine + 6 months per incident? I love it!!!

"you're still legally obliged to leave your thoughts on Governor Brewer's official Facebook page."
err....no you are not. Your not obligated to do anything.
"Let us not forget that Arizona is the state which also was considering racial profiling, anti-gay adoption, and bills against immigration." - lol. That could be considered trolling by some

Hah, suddenly my state, NJ doesn't seem like the worst state ever anymore, 'ey? BTW, our orange people don't exist, just to let y'all know... Jersey Shore is 100% fiction.

MASTER260 said,
Hah, suddenly my state, NJ doesn't seem like the worst state ever anymore, 'ey? BTW, our orange people don't exist, just to let y'all know... Jersey Shore is 100% fiction.
Jersey shore is not 100% Fiction. Go to the Jersey Shore. Then talk.

Sometimes I hate living in Arizona. Our state seems so politically confused. We're really liberal here, extremely conservative over there... none of it seems to make any sense. All I can say is, somebody needs to run over Sheriff Joe. Oh wait, does publically wishing serious injury upon somebody count as trolling??

I didn't mean to offend anyone who lives in Arizona by the way, just your government seems like it is run by a bunch of 80 year olds who have nothing to do with their day but complain about the things that youth do. And... sorry to any 80 year olds that don't complain... ahh whatever.

a.mcdear said,
Sometimes I hate living in Arizona. Our state seems so politically confused. We're really liberal here, extremely conservative over there... none of it seems to make any sense. All I can say is, somebody needs to run over Sheriff Joe. Oh wait, does publically wishing serious injury upon somebody count as trolling??

Dear Arizona, Why waste your time with such silly things and why not just have everyone vote on a bill to rename Arizona to Nambypambyland. Makes more sense to me.

Also, as Astra.Xtreme pointed out, the first amendment says that what you are doing would be revoking not only freedom of speech, but also freedom of press and right to peaceful assembly. Trolling is peaceful usually. Yes, some people take it too far. You must look at trolling the same as a protest, as it really is very similar. I encourage trolls sometimes as they do sometimes have valid arguments unless they just say something like "Apple Sucks" with no supporting discussion. Even then, it is basically harmless.

I'm sure if stalking or bullying were more your goal, then that would be much easier togo after. I have the right to call my neighbor an A-hole, behind his back, or to his face. You think you can control this? Or maybe you just want people to leave Arizona and move to neighboring states? I don't know what the possible desired outcome is here. If you want to have a giant statewide church, why not do that? But then, remember, you can't charge anyone that lives there property tax then.

Ok... I'm done. For now.

Astra.Xtreme said,
So this is essentially revoking freedom of speech? I don't see how this would ever pass or ever be upheld in a case.

There have been several cases where Freedom of Speech has been overruled. Inciting riots, direct threats to the President, yelling "FIRE" in a crowded theater. There is precedent.

The writer of this article obviously knows nothing about the law in Arizona or in the United States. First of all, if you check the source link, you will find it's a Class 1 MISDEMEANOR... NOT a felony. A Class 1 Felony would be on par with premeditated murder, life in jail or even execution... get it? A Class 1 misdemeanor on the other hand is the most serious type of misdemeanor, however it is no felony - not by a long shot.

Sometimes unprofessional journalism really doesn't look better... get it right Neowin.

SirEvan said,
Arizona or Alabama? because you state both states. Pick one.

Arizona. I made a mistake with that, but I've corrected it now thanks to you and another user who flagged it up as an issue.

The best thing to do a troll is to ignore him a.k.a not feed him or attack him and at the same time not get bothered by him even if he says nonsense. Those who get involved become the trolls.

xpclient said,
The best thing to do a troll is to ignore him a.k.a not feed him or attack him and at the same time not get bothered by him even if he says nonsense. Those who get involved become the trolls.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

'Nuff said.

ahhell said,
Weak comeback. I'm surprised that you didn't dust off the old "I know you are but what am I?".

No I didn't request more examples of trolls.

So if I troll, the AZ government has to investigate it and then they find out I am not from their backwards a$$ bumblefu*k state. Instead I am from NY. Seems like this is wasted state payers money.

UndergroundWire said,
So if I troll, the AZ government has to investigate it and then they find out I am not from their backwards a$$ bumblefu*k state. Instead I am from NY. Seems like this is wasted state payers money.

Or what happens if your accounts get hacked? How do they prove the person who was "trolling" is actually the account owner?

trag3dy said,

Or what happens if your accounts get hacked? How do they prove the person who was "trolling" is actually the account owner?


Excellent point.

BannedForTruth said,

So all the dumb trolling from your account was really some hacker and not you? =)

I don't troll. I'm guessing you do all the dumb trolling since you were banned and warned several times.

I like it. The ONLY freedom this would restrict is your freedom to harass someone. That's one I would gladly see be taken away.

ahhell said,
Who draws the line on what is considered "harassment" though?
Exactly! What if it's Windows vs. Mac blog, you express how you dislike one or the other platform and wham; you are headed to jail because the poster didn't like your answer (you annoyed them).

Nexus69 said,
Exactly! What if it's Windows vs. Mac blog, you express how you dislike one or the other platform and wham; you are headed to jail because the poster didn't like your answer (you annoyed them).

Lol. My 6 years old Neowin account was banned because I told a guy who said he "cannot NOT install Windows 8" that he's having some first-world problems =)

BannedForTruth said,

Lol. My 6 years old Neowin account was banned because I told a guy who said he "cannot NOT install Windows 8" that he's having some first-world problems =)

What? Really? Who banned it?

thealexweb said,
That awkward moment when politicians think they "get" the internet.

They are as idiots as everyone that thinks good arguments are trolling and poor arguments are the ones who "feed the trolls". Those are much worse than the so called troll.

Luis Mazza said,

They are as idiots as everyone that thinks good arguments are trolling and poor arguments are the ones who "feed the trolls". Those are much worse than the so called troll.


+1