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Home / WorldTech / Federal Judge Eliminates Cyberstalking Law from Washington State and Writes Criminally Protected Language

Federal Judge Eliminates Cyberstalking Law from Washington State and Writes Criminally Protected Language



The Washington State Capitol, 201
7.
Photo: Elaine Thompson (AP)

A federal judge in Washington has banned the 2004 law that prohibits cyberstalking after it has been found to be its language barrier "Bullying, Intimidation, Torment or Embarrassment" were too vague and violated the Constitution according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In his ruling, Ronald Bruce Leighton, district judge in the United States, wrote the "breadth" of the law – With the simple meaning of his words -thanks to protected speech that is exempt from protection by any of the recognized areas that are not described except "as well as that it" criminalizes a wide range of non-obscene, non-threatening speech based only on (1) allegedly bad intent and (2) repetition or anonymity. "Leighton added:

If the legal provisions do not define The courts of Washington usually give them their usual meaning, including the dictionary definition. The dictionary definition of "harassment" includes "constant or chronic anger, anger or anger". The third new international dictionary by Webster, Unabridged (online edition 2017), and the meaning of "torment" involves "causing worry or anger" … "embarrassment" means "experiencing a state of self-conscious suffering" … as a result even public criticism of personalities and officials could be prosecuted and punished if they are considered to be intended to persistently "annoy" or "annoy" or embarrass public figures

The case involved a former Air Force Major, Richard Rynearson III, who frequently criticized the National Defense Authorization Act's (NDAA) detention provisions, criticized bourgeois organizations whose purpose was to recall the mass incarceration of Japanese in concentration camps during World War II, saying they supported Democratic politicians in favor the NDAA while they are Republicans criticized – and in particular, wrote the judge – several Facebook posts, including "insulting, ridiculous and harsh language (but no obscenity, obscenity or threats)," which have addressed to the founder of Clarence Moriwaki.

Rynearson published numerous criticisms of Moriwaki, a neighbor, on his Facebook page after he was asked to quit and until he was blocked. Later, he founded a group that used Moriwaki's name to continue the criticism.

"He just won't leave me alone," Moriwaki said in July 2017, according to Kitsap Sun. "I told him to stop writing about me and stop contacting me and he will not do it. He is a classic cyber-tyrant.

While Rynearson was not charged with a crime, Leighton wrote that he had been warned by Kitsap's prosecutor that his conduct would be monitored and subjected to a civil protection order from March 2017 to January 2018.

Leighton noted, however, that, even though the bill was too broad, in a previous case where a man was convicted of cyberstalking for threatening to kill several women, "the behavior or speech (actual threat) has fallen significantly Area of ​​unprotected speech. "

The Electronic Frontier Foundation welcomed the decision in a blog post on Friday and wrote that while the Internet objected to online harassment," perhaps the routine criticism of politicians and other public figures is an integral part of our democracy "and criminalize it "Absolutely sensible" behavior.

"This is all valuable speech that is protected by the First Amendment, and no state legislation is allowed to undermine these rights," the Foundation wrote. "We are pleased that the judge has agreed."

As Engadget noted, the state of Washington could appeal the decision. However, if the ruling holds, "this could force lawmakers to significantly narrow the scope if a cyberstalking law is to be retained.

[EFF via Engadget]


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