Supreme Court Silences Annoying E-Mail
Posted April 19, 1999
RALEIGH — E-mail is becoming vital to many Triangle residents both at work and at home. People use it for business, to keep in touch with friends and a few, for more sinister purposes.
Some people have been sending obscene e-mails, but the U.S. Supreme Court deemed that practice illegal Monday.
The Supreme Court upheld a federal law prohibiting computer users from sending obscene e-mail intended to annoy someone.
Owners of a Web site called "annoy.com" challenged part of the Communications Decency Act claiming it violates free speech.
Annoy.com allows people to send e-mail anonymously to anyone. Messages are often coarse, using four letter words. Graphics on the site would certainly be considered indecent and possibly obscene.
It is also illegal to use a telephone or modem, to anonymously communicate "with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass." Annoy.com says its business is booming and will continue operation.
However, agents will likely keep tabs on the messages spewing from the site and could prosecute users.
ApolloMedia, which runs annoy.com, says the Web site is designed to let people send anonymous, provocative e-mail to government officials and other public figures.