Revisions Planned for Arizona Ban on “Obscene, Lewd or Profane Language” Used Online “With Intent to … Offend”

As I noted last week, both houses of the Arizona legislature passed a bill that would say,

It is unlawful for any person, with intent to[, among other things,] harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language ….

Many people criticized the bill, as did I, but just a few days ago, a co-sponsor of the bill (UPDATE: Vic Williams) was having none of it, writing,

As the co-sponsor of HB2549 I can see the conspiracy have their tin-foil hats on tonight.

HB2549 is being chased down by the “black-helicopter” crowd. Their claims of internet restriction are unfounded and way off base!!

You can read the bill and full details @ http://www.vote4vic.com/index.cfm/article_58.htm

Yet the tin foil apparently worked: Another co-sponsor has now announced that the bill will be revised, before being sent to the Governor. According to CNN,

[Arizona Rep. Ted] Vogt said Wednesday that the bill would be amended to say those harassing communications must be directed at a specific person and must be “unwanted or unsolicited.”…

The bill will not apply to online comment sections or semi-public forums such as Facebook walls, Vogt said.

“With Facebook, you’ve got control over who your friends are,” he said. “So if somebody is threatening you and you never de-friend them then you’re not controlling it. You’re inviting people to comment freely on your Facebook page. You can de-friend them and you can end the problem there.”

Comments sections are the same, he said, since websites don’t have to invite people to comment and can take down those sections if they are worried about threats.

I haven’t seen any specific proposed text (none is posted yet on the Legislature’s site), so I can’t speak to how good the amendment will be. But I’m glad the legislators are at least rejecting the old, bad version of the bill.

I’m also glad that Connecticut legislators have killed a similarly bad recent Connecticut proposal.