Most people who have used the internet for any length of time is able to recognise an internet troll.
They’re the people who delight in posting something inflammatory or outrageous with the intention of provoking a reaction. They often don’t care if what they post is offensive or simply stupid, all they desire is to disrupt genuine conversations or upset innocent people.
It’s pretty immature behaviour – but sadly, it’s all too common.
An update to the US State of Arizona’s telecommunications harrasment bill, however, could send a strong message to internet trolls that their behaviour is not going to be tolerated.
"It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use 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."
By replacing references to the telephone to “any electronic or digital device”, the bill is now covering any communication over the internet.
And as trolls *do* usually intend to annoy, harass or offend – it seems pretty clear-cut that they would be in hot water.
With hand on heart, can you honestly say that you have *never* annoyed or offended someone via the internet? If you can, you’re a better person than me.
Naked Security seems to offend some people every single day – you should see the emails we get when we write about Mac malware for instance!
That’s pretty worrying, even though none of us live in Arizona – as the offence is deemed to have taken place either at “the place where the communications originated or at the place where the communications were received.”
If someone is found guilty under Arizona House Bill 2549, they could face a $2500 fine and up to six months in jail.
According to Gizmodo, if you’ve also used your computer to stalk someone your crime bumps up to a class three misdemeanor. That’s even more serious, and could see you put away for a stonking 25 years in the clink.
The revised bill passed both of Arizona’s legislative houses last week, and now awaits a stamp of approval from the state’s governor.
Don’t forget, if you’re being harassed online – here’s our advice on how to deal with an internet troll.
Just promise that you won’t report this article as annoying to the Arizona authorities.Follow @gcluley