Griffin wrote:And Lucrece, that sort of bullying-to-death shit is /already/ covered under harassment laws, which means the problem isn't a lack of relevant laws, but a lack of interest in enforcement (and fucked up culture and environments that encourage that sort of shit).
Not in Arizona, I believe. All "electronic means" refers to in the unamended statute are machines that aid in making multiple phone calls at once or constantly telephoning one person, etc. There is, in fact, a gap in Arizona's harassment laws that effectively insulates anyone acting one way online that would be criminal acting the same way over, say, the telephone or in person.
This proposal basically takes its telecommunications harassment statute and replaces "telephone" with "electronic devices." This is problematic for two reasons: (1) it is (obviously) not tailored to the difference between internet communications and telephonic communications, and; (2) the telecommunications statute has already come under fire for being unconstitutionally vague, being upheld in some applications but not in others.
I see what the legislature is doing, and I think the intent is laudable. It's silly to criminalize behavior and then give the state no cause of action against people who who do the very same thing through another medium. They're basically trying to make a new amendment to an old law to remedy a new manifestation of an old problem. Writing laws and anticipating unintended consequences can frankly be a bit hard. At this point, it's a matter of means that needs to be addressed, primarily by narrowing the scope of behavior it captures - perhaps by omitting "annoy" and "offend," or by adding a section that states the forbidden behavior needs to be addressed to a specific person, since a lot of internet communication has wide audiences (e.g., message boards, Facebook.) But the goal seems fair to me. As I said earlier, I don't see why harassment should be criminalized but balk at trying to cover the very same behavior over the Internet simply because the medium is different. The 'net is largely unregulated and for very good reasons, but that doesn't mean it's entirely Mad Max and that you should be without recourse should, for example, your pissed off ex start to send you credible threats through e-mail.
What I would do is look to states that have likewise attempted to catch up to technology. Some states, such as Massachusetts, already have statutes criminalizing harassment that includes internet communications. There are a few distinctions, namely that they limit harassment to "willfully and maliciously [engaging] in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person, which seriously alarms that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress." So, no "annoy," "offend," etc. and it's directed at a specific person.* My point being that AZ is basically one in a trend of states attempting to catch up to technology and that their biggest fault is making the statute too broad, which can and probably will be tweaked down the road, especially if it ends up clogging its courts with frivolous offensive comic scans cases instead of the sort of behavior the legislature actually intended to capture.
It should go without saying that I think their telecommunications statute could overall do with some narrowing, but it's a bigger problem with internet communications, which I think is pretty obvious to anyone who has ever spent considerable amount of time, well, actually on the internet.
*Arizona's statutory definition of harassment already limits it to behavior directed at a specific person, so by simply omitting the overbroad language, they could overcome that hurdle.
EDIT: As an aside, it looks like the jurisdiction hurdle over the internet becomes a dormant commerce clause issue more often than not, particularly with state crimes.