It may be possible to go beyond the EFF defense in this case if the summary in the last paragraph is accurate. The summary too closely follows the formulaic language, for example, of privacy policies which mislead by appearing to offer more protection than they do when a more powerful force is applied. While EFF's intentions are admriable, its capsule quotes for press and public consumption are not as persuasive as its legal briefs and may suggest reading the briefs are not necessary. Without diminishing EFF's and others' most laudable efforts in combating privacy, freedom of speech and national security spying abuses, soft-palmed press releases are not keeping up with hard-fisted, bruising legal combat. Relish the nose-bashing, skull-cracking briefs pointed to by the lazy-reader releases apparently aimed at sound-bitten, biting press. Hello, Hanni.
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2012 09:50:08 -0700 From: EFF Press <press@xxxxxxx> To: presslist@xxxxxxx Subject: Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release: Washington State 'Cyberstalking' Case Based on Unconstitutional Law Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 Contact: Hanni Fakhoury Staff Attorney Electronic Frontier Foundation hanni@xxxxxxx +1 415 436-9333 x117 Washington State 'Cyberstalking' Case Based on Unconstitutional Law Statute Criminalizes Speech in Violation of the First Amendment San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is urging a Washington State judge to dismiss "cyberstalking" charges stemming from rude comments left on a blog. In an amicus brief filed today, EFF argues that the case is based on an unconstitutional law that criminalizes free speech. The defendant in the case, Brandy Edwards, created an online dating profile under a pseudonym and used it to communicate with Amanda Westmont, the ex-wife of a friend of Edwards. Months later after the online relationship ended Edwards posted three critical comments on Westmont's publicly accessible blog, still using the pseudonym. Employing obscenities, the posts referred to Westmont as "full of herself," a "nutcase," and a "whack-job." Westmont deleted the posts and reported them to the police. A year later, Edwards was charged with two counts of "cyberstalking" under Washington State law. The first charge is based on Edwards anonymously and repeatedly communicating with Westmont for the purpose of "harassing and embarrassing" another person, although the conversation was consensual. The second charge is based on Edwards' use of "obscene" language for the purpose of "harassing or embarrassing." The problem with the Washington State statute is that it outlaws anonymous or obscene speech intended to "embarrass" without defining what that broad term means. In the brief filed today, EFF argues that the law is unconstitutional and the case should be dismissed. "While we may not like a lot of what people say online, the First Amendment allows for rudeness and other impolitic comments," said EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury. "The way this law is written, it could end up criminalizing things like posting a negative review on a website like Yelp." Venkat Balasubramani of FOCAL PLLC in Seattle, Washington, is EFF's local counsel in the case. For the full amicus brief: https://www.eff.org/node/71310/ For this release: https://www.eff.org/press/releases/washington-state-cyberstalking-case-based-unconstitutional-law About EFF The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading organization protecting civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization. Find out more at https://www.eff.org. -end- _______________________________________________ To unsubscribe or manage your email options: https://mail1.eff.org/mailman/listinfo/presslist