98.5% of blog comments now illegal

News.com reports that it is now illegal to anonymous annoy people online:

Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.

It’s no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

In other words, it’s OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.

This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.

The way we’re headed — from the PC left and the religious right — it surely will soon be a crime to offend, too.

: See much discussing and updating and debating in the comments about the true import of this. I still find the use of the word “annoy” troubling and, well, annoying. But mainly, I found writing that headline amusing.