PACIFIC NORTHWEST STATE Oregon has flirted with but rejected an attempt to criminalise the use of Twitter.
A bill in the state legislature to criminalise messages sent over the micro-social networking application was set aside after alarmed opponents spoke up and a little common sense was applied.
The proposed state senate bill 1534 would have would have made "use of electronic communication to solicit two or more persons to commit [a] specific crime at [a] specific time and location" a felony, according to the Oregonian web site.
The bill was written to crack down on so-called flash mob crimes where people spread a message through Twitter about a location that they want to attack or steal from, which someone must have worried about in Oregon. The potential sentence upon conviction proposed was up to five years in prison and a $125,000 fine.
"I would expect a law like this in Myanmar, Turkmenistan, North Korea or Zimbabwe," said Dan Meek, a Portland attorney who testified against the bill.
News of the bill spread across Twitter, naturally, and gathered a lot of opposition. Activists posted the names of those that were backing it to the popular document sharing site Pastebin, along with their contact details including phone numbers.
"Let the bill's sponsors know how you feel!" said the poster.
Cooler heads soon prevailed, and the bill died in committee. "It's dead," said Senator Floyd Prozanski, the chairman of the Oregon state senate judiciary committee. µ