Quick Updates Law Watch: Walk-Texting – Illegal (NJ), Annoying – Legal (AZ), Subpoenaing Twitter – Not Enough (Everywhere)

Today’s quick updates focuses on new laws that have an impact on our social media universe.

“And let’s see how Fort Lee scores on the ‘Laws That Make Sense Index.’ Oh my. Zero point zero.”

I M getting ticket for txt-walking. Srsly.

File this under “You people really have too much free time on your hands” as Fort Lee, New Jersey is poised to pass a law that makes it illegal to text while walking.  Fort Lee, as you already know, is right across the Hudson River from Manhattan and is also the birthplace of both the American motion picture industry and subliminal advertising.  A concept which <you love SoMeLaw Thoughts and want to tell everyone about it> is still questioned as to its effectiveness.

And speaking of questioning its effectiveness, Fort Lee is banning text-walking for safety concerns.  The town says they’ve had 20 people get hit by cars this year because they’ve been so distracted by their phones they ended up jaywalking into moving vehicles.  In case you didn’t know, jaywalking is illegal.  Meaning the town is trying to make an activity DOUBLY illegal to try and get your attention.  An action that I don’t think has ever, in the history of law and punishment, ever worked.  Not even when Dean Wormer put the Deltas on Double Secret Probation.

You may now legally annoy people on Facebook in Arizona

You may recall the earlier revision to Arizon’s stalking legislation that went a bit overboard and outlawed any online post that could even annoy another person on social media.  In response to the social media ridicule, Arizona’s legislative bodies passed a revised statute that brought the bill back to Earth.  They’ve removed the prohibitions on posts that merely “annoy” or “offend.”  They’ve also taken out the social networking element, instead limiting the statute to more direct, personal communications that they should be targeting.  Arizona, which has taken a lot of flack for some of its other legal issues, at least got this one right.  Kudos, Arizona.

In criminal justice social media, users are represented by two separate yet equally important networks…

I’m no expert in criminal procedure.  In fact, I studied for that part of both bars I took by watching a lot of Law & Order episodes (they were really good on getting the law right…plus they had that awesome opening).  But from my perspective it looks like Twitter’s move in fighting a court order requiring user data to be turned over without a warrant to be a mostly symbolic fight.  Court orders tend to be fill-in-the-blank forms that are used during discovery in a variety of lawsuits.  Warrants require judicial review and signature.  So Twitter’s move, requiring a warrant rather than just a form to turn over data, may impose enough of a burden to prosecutors that will prevent Twitter from being dragged into too many lawsuits.  But it may also just fall in the realm of other information judges routinely grant access.  It could even backfire as complying with warrants can carry stricter penalties/requirements than other, more generic court orders.

But even as a symbolic fight, it’s a good fight to make.  While most Twitter users don’t protect their tweets, some do.  There’s been far too little pushback on what non-public information can be retrieved on social media so this is a welcome look at an issue that will only increase in importance.



Filed under Commercial Activity, Consumer Protection, Facebook, First Amendment, Laws, Social Content, Social Media Policies, Social Platforms, Social Tracking, Twitter

2 responses to “Quick Updates Law Watch: Walk-Texting – Illegal (NJ), Annoying – Legal (AZ), Subpoenaing Twitter – Not Enough (Everywhere)

  1. Pingback: Even When Twitter Loses, They Win | SoMeLaw Thoughts

  2. Pingback: If You Tell 140 Million People Something, Is That Private? | SoMeLaw Thoughts

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