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Law bans Internet images that cause ’emotional distress’

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June 10, 2011

There goes the Internet.

A new Tennessee law makes it a crime to post an image online that might “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone.

As reported by the technology website Ars Technica, the state already has a law against making phone calls, sending e-mails or otherwise communicating with someone in a way that would cause emotional distress. This latest ban, signed by Gov. Bill Haslam last week, is an update to that law.

The difference is that offenders may be prosecuted even if it’s not the intended recipient who is “distressed.” Anyone who sees the image – which means anyone on the Internet – could claim it upset them.

Prosecution can lead to almost a year in jail or up to $2,500 in fines.

The law even includes postings on social networking sites, giving law enforcement access to those drunken Facebook photos and tweeted pictures of your lunch if they can demonstrate that the content is “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

Privacy experts, including UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, say the law is unconstitutional.

This article was posted: Friday, June 10, 2011 at 10:01 am

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