AZ Cyberstalking bill draws fire---may be revised

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AZ Cyberstalking bill draws fire---may be revised

CREATED Apr. 3, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith

PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) - The atmosphere's often a little rough on the internet.
Arizona lawmakers have been working on a bill with the potential to shut down cyber bullies.
But critics worry it's so broad it could bring the law down on simple low-grade cyber-jerks.

Arizona's anti stalking law dates back to when the telephone was the main way to make someone miserable by remote control.

Modern technology has made it easier to stalk and bully and push innocent people to despair and maybe even suicide.
The state legislature expanded the old stalking law to include any electronic or digital device used to annoy, offend or threaten you...and make breaking the law a class three felony---that can mean serious prison time.

But internet advocates say the language in the law is so broad it could step on freedom of speech and make illegal political comments or even the snippy comments people fire back and forth on Facebook.
David Horowitz is the director of the Media Coalition, which includes book, film and music industry groups.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Horowitz: "Is there a better way to address the issues of harassment, bullying, we've done an awful lot of bullying stories where electronic bullying was a factor?"

Horowitz:  "We just feel this is an instance where the legislation is overbroad and could apply to a lot of speech that goes well beyond what you think of as bullying."
Now Pima County State Rep Vic Williams says he'll work with the Media Coalition to revise the law to protect against modern stalking.

"But also do it in a way where it will bring us up to a more modern and technologically advanced period in time but still protect individual liberties, protect individual freedoms and make sure we do not quash appropriate free speech."