Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tweet by Twit Has Authorities in Snit

Robin Hood Airport Doncaster SheffieldImage via Wikipedia
The Financial Times and www.DailyRecord.co.uk report that a 26-year-old Englishman is the first person held criminally liable under a 2003 British law that prohibits sending "indecent, obscene or menacing" messages over a public electronic communications network.

Paul Chambers was upset that a snowstorm shut down Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster, England, a week before his scheduled flight, possibly derailing a planned liasion in Ireland with his girlfriend. Chambers fired off a Tweet that set a one-week deadline for Robin Hood to re-open or "I'm blowing the airport sky high." Authorities were neither amused nor impressed that the purported threat was within Twitter's 140-character message limit and Chambers, who is training as an accountant, soon found his number was up.

It's a scary world and vigilance by law enforcement is necessary and commendable, but a threat to free expression is equally alarming. It can be a fine line between danger and dumbness, and Chambers knows the risks that lurk on the mean "tweets" of Doncaster.

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