Posted by James Skyles
This morning, I came across an article on Fox News about the Rhode Island legislature repealing a law that made it a crime to lie on the internet. The law, which was passed in the prodigy dominated internet era back in 1989, made lying on the internet punishable by up to a $500 fine and 1 year in prison. Criminal lawyers know this type of punishment as the highest punishment you can get with a crime that is just a misdemeanor.
In 1989 this might have made a little sense since the only people using the internet for anything other than looking at an encyclopedia and maybe some shopping, were government officials and the military. It may have at one time been necessary to enforce honesty in internet communications. However, I don’t think it was ever really enforced because there is no way the law would pass first amendment scrutiny in the courts. Still, this is a law that I am sure everyone in America broken. Here is a list of things that would qualify as a crime under this law.
- Posting an older picture of yourself on facebook, claiming it was new.
- Shedding 10lbs off your weight in a dating profile
- Claiming to have worked with Mario van Peebles on a TV show when you were just an extra (actually that would probably be O.K.)
- Photoshopping yourself in your profile picture
- Every single World of Warcraft avatar
- Being a politician who’s political speech just happened to have been posted online
- Posting a picture of your cat talking in broken English (Cat’s don’t talk… really they don’t)
- Saying you’re in corporate management, when you work the night shift at 7-11
You see how this can get a little hairy? So what “crimes” do you think people routinely commit on the internet?