Obscenity and Phone Laws: a personal experience [cr-951214]


Richard Moore

Date: Thu, 14 Dec 1995
>From: "Dorothy K. Dean" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Obscenity and Phone Laws

I sent Andy a short version of this message and he said that it would
have a wide enough application that it should be sent to the list.

This details my experience using the existing telephone law to deal with
2 people posting obscene messages to me on my bbs.

I have operated an Amiga BBS for 10 years,  In that time I learned and
used many techniques for discouraging obnoxious callers and callers
trying to use my bbs for illegal purposes.  Obviously, obnoxious behavior
is dealt with less strenuously than illegal behavior.

My bag of tricks includes removing the offending message, cautioning the
caller, reducing time available on-line, etc.  Offensive or threatenning
messages directed to me are dealt with by not responding to them and
removing them.

A few years ago two males invaded my bbs to play Hack & Slash.  They also
persistently left messages to me that contained obscene material directed
at me personally.  After a few months of ignoring them, then warning
them, they began to leave messages publicly on other bulletin boards in
this area.  The content of the public messages was as bad as that of the
private messages.

I contacted the District Attorney after 6 months of this nonsense.  The
DA agreed that the content was obscene.  My complaint first got sent to
their computer crimes people even though I had asked about the telephone
laws.  The computer crimes people agreed with me about sending my
complaint to the staff who handle telephone laws.  It turned out, not
surprisingly, that the 2 males were both juveniles.  Their parents were
sent letters by the D.A. and came in to discuss the situation.  Neither
boy could be prosecuted because of their ages.  I just wanted them to
stop so it didn't matter to me that they could not be prosecuted.

The parents were very upset about the messages and I think the kids
realized for the first time that the sysop is a real person.

I do not want to see the internet restricted by the current proposed
legislation on pornography.  Maybe we can make an argument that existing
laws can be used successfully to go after offenders.

Dorothy K. Dean


 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
 CyberRights co-leader  | Cyberlib=http://www.internet-eireann.ie/cyberlib