Summer is the season to crack down on the Internet — or so Tennessee seems to think.
First, the state made it a crime for people to share credentials for entertainment subscription services like Netflix and Rhapsody.
Now the governor has signed a law that says a person faces up to a year in jail (pdf) if he publishes an image that he reasonably should know will "frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" to a victim or "a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities" and doesn't have a "legitimate" reason for doing so. While the crime requires a reasonable likelihood that the image will be viewed by the victim, criminal penalties can kick in if the "victim" doesn't ever actually see it, but someone else finds it distressing.
The legislation — which goes into effect next week, on July 1 — will update a law already on the books that makes it illegal to send communications that the sender reasonably knows would frighten, intimidate, or cause distress to the recipient. As revised, the law will now make it a crime to publish an image on any Internet site or service if someone else finds it emotionally disturbing.
As law professor ...