Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Attention Bloggers and Social Media Users: New Tennessee Law Could Expose You To Criminal Prosecution

Sometimes great intentions can produce drastically different results. During the just completed legislative session, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law designated as Public Chapter 362 with the intent of curtailing "cyberbullying" on the Internet, especially on social media sites.

In the process the Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-308 which covers "Harassment" was butchered to basically leave anyone with an Internet or social media presence potentially exposed to criminal prosecution if they unintentionally cause "emotional distress" to anyone.

The Tennessee Chapter of the ACLU has announced a challenge to the law which takes effect on Friday, July 1, 2011 because they claim that it "violates the guarantee of freedom of speech and expression under the First Amendment."

The authors of the legislation indicate that they feel that the law contains safeguards that would not allow it tho be used  except for the intended use.

However, with no definition of "emotional distress," a suit could be filed based on just about anything. Whether it is warranted or not, a person would incur extensive legal costs in clearing their name.

I would suggest that anyone with a blog or social media account to read each of the above linked documents carefully and if you are so inclined, go here and advise the ACLU of your concerns to help bolster their case.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for OddsAndEnds

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