Tennessee's Government Declares Disturbing Internet Images Illegal

By Mack Rawden 2011-06-14 18:32:38
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The road to hell is paved in good intentions, and the path to a police state is chiseled one protective measure at a time. First, they take away your right to share your Netflix password with your wife; then, they impose legislation making it a crime to disseminate disturbing or emotionally harmful images on the internet. Tennessee has had a crazy run of freedom-infringing technology legislation over the last ten days, but itís hard to imagine this latest naively-conceived disaster wonít be shot down immediately.

HB 300 is now officially law in Tennessee. It passed with only three dissenting votes in the state legislature and was signed without fanfare or protest, but the unintended ramifications, if unchecked, could potentially affect your internet life. According to Digital Trends, who published an exhaustive and informative write-up, the measure was originally proposed in order to combat intimidation and cyber-bullying. For instance, if a defendant in an upcoming court case sent a .jpg of himself holding a gun to a witnessí GMail, that would now be considered a crime. Thereís nothing wrong with that limited scope legislation. Unfortunately, as written, HB 300 allows the government to prosecute anyone who ďtransmits or displays an image in a manner in which there is a reasonable expectation that the image will be viewed by the victim.Ē

Perhaps even worse, the legislation requires internet providers and social networking sites to turn over pictures and communications immediately upon government request. Just so weíre clear, HB 300 makes all your internet communication fair game for investigators if youíre accused of disseminating ďdisturbing imagesĒ. Which brings us the next logical point, what the hell is a disturbing image?

When I was younger, prior to the stupid, crafty internet providers allowing you to trace over a hyperlink, my friends and I used to send each other horrible, fucked-up videos and pictures with blatantly misleading hyperlink names. Hereís an example that you should absolutely not click on unless you arenít at work and have no conscience: Is Britney Spears Losing Weight? I was also very partial to this grotesque and villainous ploy too: You Hear They Found An Unreleased Beatlesí Album? Under the terms of this new legislation, I would have been an internet predator, when in actuality, I was a jackass who deserved retribution. Donít worry. That comeuppance came with this witty and intelligent dupe from my roommate: Great Tribute Piece On Peter Jennings. Thatís right. He used Peter Jenningsí death as way to trick me into watching Asian women vomit on each other. Still makes me want to cry and laugh at the same time.

One manís vile indecency is anotherís joke. Thatíll never change, but unless legislation like HB 300 is overturned, the decision of whatís offensive will be taken off the user and given to the government. Thatís a fundamentally bad idea. Some people find any nudity disturbing. Other people canít handle swearing or horror movies. Many of the best movies, LPs and television shows have been called disturbing at one point in time. That line should be drawn by the people.

To voice your displeasure, click this link to send a Tweet to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
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