--Clause in New Law Criminalizes Anonymous "Annoying" eMail and Web Postings

(10/9 January 2006)

The recently enacted Violence Against Women and Department of Justice

Reauthorization Act contains a clause that makes it a crime to post

"annoying messages or send annoying email" without disclosing one's true

identity. The clause, which amends existing phone harassment laws,

prohibits people from using the Internet "without disclosing their

identities and with the intent to annoy." People convicted under the law

could face fines and prison sentences of up to two years.