Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"If You Hate Them Post Their Contact Info"

This is a regular feature on 4chan /b/. People post the name and contact information of someone they have a grudge against, or for some other reason want to harass, and other people harass them with offensive or aggravating phone calls, Facebook messages, text messages, etc.

Telephone and Internet harassment over state lines are illegal under the federal Communications Act of 1934. This statute is mostly codified as Chapter 5 (Wire or Radio Communication) of Title 47 (Telegraphs, Telephones, and Radiotelegraphs) of the U.S. Code, sections 151 to 615b. The relevant section is 47 U.S.C. section 223 (Obscene or harassing telephone calls in the District of Columbia or in interstate or foreign communications).

Section 223 is divided into eight subsections marked (a) to (h). Subsections can contain "paragraphs" marked with numerals such as (1) and (2). Paragraphs can contain subparagraphs marked with capital letters such as (A) and (B). The relevant text looks like this:

Section 223. Obscene or harassing telephone calls in the District of Columbia or in interstate or foreign communications
(a) Prohibited acts generally
(1) in interstate or foreign communications—
(A) ...
(B) ...
(C) makes a telephone call or utilizes a telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or communication ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who receives the communications;
(D) makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number; or
(E) makes repeated telephone calls or repeatedly initiates communication with a telecommunications device, during which conversation or communication ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number or who receives the communication; or
(2) ...
shall be fined under title 18 [Crimes and Criminal Procedure] or imprisoned not
more than two years, or both.
(b) Prohibited acts for commercial purposes; defense to prosecution
(c) Restriction on access to subscribers by common carriers; judicial remedies respecting
(d) Sending or displaying offensive material to persons under 18
(e) Defenses
(f) Violations of law required; commercial entities, nonprofit libraries, or institutions of higher education
(g) Application and enforcement of other Federal law
(h) Definitions
For purposes of this section—
(1) The use of the term "telecommunications device" in this section—
(A) ...
(B) ...
(C) in the case of subparagraph (C) of subsection (a)(1) of this section, includes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet (as such term is defined in section 1104 of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (47 U.S.C. 151 note)).
(2) ...
(3) ...
(4) ...
(5) ...

The language in (h)(1)(C) referring to the Internet was added in 2006 by Section 113 (Preventing Cyberstalking) of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, Public Law 109-162, signed into law in Jan. 2006 by Pres. Bush.

The full text of 47 U.S.C. section 223 can be viewed here. The U.S. Code can be viewed here (scroll down the page).

Most, if not all, states have their own law prohibiting telephone harassment, and many prohibit Internet harassment. For example, New York state, where Christopher Poole resides, has Article 240 (Offenses Against Public Order), section 30 (Aggravated harassment in the second degree) of the New York Penal Law. The relevant text reads:

Section 240.30 Aggravated harassment in the second degree.
A person is guilty of aggravated harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she:
1. Either (a) communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, by telegraph, or by mail, or by transmitting or delivering any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or (b) causes a communication to be initiated by mechanical or electronic means or otherwise with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, by telegraph, or by mail, or by transmitting or delivering any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or
2. Makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose
of legitimate communication; or
3. ...
4. ...
5. ... Aggravated harassment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.

The full text of section 240.30 can be viewed here. The Consolidated Laws of New York (codified statutes of New York state) can be viewed here.

Unlike the federal statute the New York statute doesn't include the term "Internet", however the wording "mechanical or electronic means or otherwise" and "any other form of written communication" is broad, and the courts in New York state have confirmed that this covers various forms of electronic harassment, including by email, text messages, and Internet postings. These case notes (brief summaries of court cases interpreting a statute) are from the McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated, one of two commercial, printed versions of the New York Consolidated Laws. (The other is the New York Consolidated Laws Service; they are from different publishers.)

"Aggravated harassment in second degree prohibits harassing and threatening messages sent to individuals over the Internet." People v. Munn (1999), Vol. 688 New York Supplement 2d p. 384

"Aggravated harassment in the second degree may be committed by sending harassing or threatening messages by e-mail." Smith v. Smith (2005), Vol. 804 New York Supplement 2d p. 854

"Communications supporting a second-degree aggravated harassment conviction can be in the form of direct statements, phone messages, and/or text messages." People v. Thompson (2010), Vol. 905 New York Supplement 2d p. 449

"Defendant who, upon breakup of his relationship with former girlfriend, had caused website to be created at which were displayed suggestive photographs of girlfriend, along with her address and telephone numbers and solicitations for third parties to contact her, was guilty of aggravated harassment for 'causing a communication to be initiated by mechanical or electronic means [that was] likely to cause annoyance or alarm,' though defendant did not himself make any annoying communications to former girlfriend, but used others to do so." People v. Kochanowski (2000), Vol. 722 New York Supplement 2d p. 483

These are some of the comments posted by the people in the thread:

"calll her a whale"

"Sent 'whale' 30 times"

"Just ruin his life."

"n*gger loving. cat hater. she is an overall c*nt"

"stereo typical rich private school white b*tch, and is a total slut... make it good /b/, i wanna hear about this"

"friend stealing wh*re
f*ck her up /b/ro's"

"ugly b*tch with huge t*ts, is like 5' tall, has no life and f*cks anything that moves, her name is ***. rape her"

"Ha this b*tch is making this sooo much fun"

"Hey, how's the whole 'no soul' thing?
She breaks down and hangs up."

"she won't answer anymore lulululul"

"Sign this asian b*tch up for porn sites, send her sh*t in the mail, call her an asian slut that doesn't have the balls to use her fingers when she masturbates because she thinks its gross to be in there. Creep on her on Aim. I've given all this information you need, you are only limited by your lack of imagination, so go fourth /b/, its open season on this girl's life"

"I'm destroying this b*tch free text apps are the SH*T!!"

"b*tch hung up on me"

"Randy's really starting to lose it lol"

"Legit num


"her names *** shes a ugly wh*re =) so yeah"

"*** is her name, don't need to friend her to post on her wall I don't believe. Do some damage, and post results. Absolute slut."

"he's a guido. f*ck him up."

"shes adopted and a wh*re f*ck her sh*t up"

"stupid wh*re who thinks she's popular, do your worst /b/"

"all i can say is. she might be a n*gger. shes anoying as f*ck. and her parents dont love her. please attack. make her kill herself. lol"

"annoying dramatic wh*re, make her life a living hell"

"F*ck this guy up!"

"it's the middle of the night there, so just random empty phonecalls would be helluv annoying im sure"

"Dumb greasy juggalette b*tch."

"nasty nasty nasty wh*re, backstabber, and sh*t talker. f*ck her sh*t up."

"please destroy this f*cker"

"Insult her manly features and call her a c*nt. She likes it. HAHA!"

"first one was pretty pissed. Having too much fun to get to the second one. You have facebooks for either of them?"


"Just got off phone with Randy. Dude's freakin out!"

"called her c*nt on her wall chck it. lul i luv my fake FB"

"Duuuuuuude she raged!"

"She's almost to tears /b/rothers!
Don't stop."

"Omg tell her she's a stupid b*tch, it's hilarious!"

"holy sh*t his mom is answering and she is pissed off"

"God someone else post results i wanna see them. She said she would trace this number"

"Yes shes f*cking stupid we might have a suicide with this ine"

"she's crying"
"he's pissed lol"

"prissy b*tches! crying, don't stop!.
f*cking hilarious!"

"please blow up her phone and take her down"

"call her text her she's a f*cking b*tch make her pay"

The full screenshot can be downloaded here.
For some reason it cut off at the very end, where the blank white space is.