New Arizona Internet Stalking Law


Internet stalking law makes cookies and log files illegal

Are cookies and log files now illegal???

This law sounds so broad and vague I suspect that logging visitors to your web site is now a felony. Same for placing a cookie on a web page.

Does this mean anybody that uses Google Analytics is not a felon? Or for that matter the folks that created Google Analytics are felons?


Arizona to outlaw Internet stalking

Measure will go into effect Aug. 2

by Lindsey Erdody - Jul. 11, 2012 09:56 PM

The Republic |

When Arizona lawmakers crafted legislation on stalking and harassment in the 1970s, there was no way they could have foreseen the possibility of it happening on the yet-to-be Internet, through e-mails or in text messages.

Changes in technology motivated legislators to write a new law this year that will prohibit stalking or harassment through the Internet and other more modern means of communication. When the law goes into effect Aug. 2, Arizona will join 24 other states with similar legislation.

House Bill 2549 prevents anyone from terrifying, intimidating, threatening or harassing an individual through electronic communication.

The previous law protected individuals from these acts only via the telephone.

The new law also makes it illegal to use an electronic, digital or global-positioning device to monitor an individual for 12 hours or more on two or more occasions.

Rep. Ted Vogt, R-Tucson, who sponsored the bill, said the law needed updating to protect victims of harassment or stalking through text messages or e-mails.

"We had a loophole in the law that had developed because technology had outpaced the law," Vogt said. "We communicate in very different ways in 2012 than we did in the early 1970s."

According to the law, an electronic communication is considered a "wire line, cable, wireless or cellular telephone call, a text message, an instant message or electronic mail."

Rep. Vic Williams, R-Tucson, who co-sponsored the bill, said this is just the start of updating laws because of technology.

"Every legislature moving forward is going to have to deal with the impact of technology," Williams said. "Many of the issues that will come up, we don't even realize what they will be."

Besides Arizona, 24 states have cyberstalking and cyberharassment laws, 10 states have only cyberstalking laws and 13 have only cyberharassment laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kentucky and Nebraska don't have laws in either category.

The new law does not apply to Facebook or other social-networking sites or blogs. The communication must be considered unwanted or unsolicited and be directed to a specific individual.

Williams said people are usually communicating with more than one other person on these sites, which is allowed.

"People have the right to make comments about people," he said. "Those things shouldn't be inhibited or blocked."

Kim MacEachern, staff attorney for the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys' Advisory Council, said the law will help prosecutors win cases they previously lost.

She said that, in the past, harassment cases involved victims receiving voice mails constantly. But now, it's text messages.

"It clarifies what it means to harass someone using an electronic communication," MacEachern said. "I think, in the end, the bill turned out to be pretty specific at what it was getting at."

Harassment is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to six months in jail, three years' probation and a $2,500 fine.

Stalking can be classified as a Class 3 or Class 5 felony. It is probation-eligible, but could result in anywhere from six months to eight years in jail.

Opponents to the initial wording of the bill said it was too vague and would prohibit free speech.

The original draft made it a crime to "annoy or offend" an individual, but lawmakers omitted that from the final version.

"We listened to people. We listened to their concerns," Williams said. "We put the brakes on the legislation."

The final version of the law also says it does not apply to any constitutionally protected speech.

Seth Apfel, a former board member for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said the wording improved, but he still thinks it's open for too much interpretation.

He said he is concerned prosecutors will take advantage of the loose wording to prove there was intent to harass, even if there wasn't.

"When you have language that allows for potential abuse, there might be someone in the government that will abuse it," Apfel said. "I'd rather not present that opportunity and have language that is very narrowly written."


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