Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Government pulls out riot control acts against twitterer

The OutFront “Policestate” editorial (“Heat vs. Tweet”) in the March/April 2010 issue of Mother Jones describes the arrest of Elliott Madison, and subsequent seizure of his computer stuff from his New York apartment, for tweeting the locations of police officers monitoring the protests at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh last September. The article doesn’t appear online yet (from what I can find), but the Huffington Post has a similar account from Oct. 4, 2009, with link here.

The federal anti-riot statute is 18 USC &2101, making it a crime to engage in interstate activity to “organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot.” The law was used against the Chicago 7 for the “Medium Cool” protests in 1968 in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention. The Cornell University Law School source for the statute is here.

Does a law like this reasonably apply to Tweets, chat, and email?

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