I know I am a little behind the times in bringing you this news, but I couldn’t help but write about this. I read a great article by David Kravets on Wired.com which explains new proposed legislation. Under a new bill proposed by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Los Angeles, hostile bloggers could face up to two years in prison. The bill, H.R. 1966, is labeled the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act.
This bill would amend Title 18 of the United States Code by defining cyberbullying as
Sec. 881. Cyberbullying
`(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
`(b) As used in this section–
`(1) the term `communication’ means the electronic transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received; and
`(2) the term `electronic means’ means any equipment dependent on electrical power to access an information service, including email, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones, and text messages.’.
At first glance, this appears to be a great protection for all of our children who are so internet (and text messaging savvy) these days from people who will bully and stalk them online.
But, take a closer look at this bill. Will it be expanded to be a form on censorship for the internet? Will those of us who like to use our blogs to express our own opinions, be threatened with prison for exercising our First Amendment rights to free speech.
I’ll let you be the judge.