State lawmakers in Rhode Island finally realized that having a law on the books that made lying in any form on the internet a crime might not be such a great idea, as the letter of the law made virtually every citizen of the state a criminal. The obscure 1989 law made the “transmission of false data” online a misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $500 and even up to a year in prison.
The purpose of the law was to stop fraud, scammers, and con artists, but the law never stipulates that the untrue information must be transmitted with the intent to harm or gain personal profit. The unfortunate result of such a broad law on the books was that listing your build as “athletic” on your dating profile, messaging your spouse that you were “working late” when you were in fact at happy hour with your buddies, or pretending you’ve actually read Dickens on your Facebook profile made you guilty of a misdemeanor in the state.
The repeal is step forward in protecting individual rights and interests on the internet, but it is still possible to be wrongly convicted of internet crimes throughout the country. An attorney may be able to help if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being prosecuted for an internet crime you did not commit.