Terrorist Hoax Improvements Act

From ars technica:

The government will soon be able to sue parties involved in “hoaxes” that are mistaken for terrorism if a new bill is passed by Congress. The bill, entitled “The Terrorist Hoax Improvements Act of 2007,” was introduced by the Senate and will amend the federal criminal code to include a number of new clauses meant to up the ante on wasting government resources. The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information and mailing threats, increases to maximum prison terms, and allowances for civil suits so that local and federal governments can attempt to recoup expenses related to an incident.

That brings us to where we are today, with the Terrorist Hoax Improvements Act of 2007. Although the Mooninite scare was determined to not be a hoax (but rather an unfortunate series of poor decisions), the provisions in the bill would allow the government to take civil action against parties involved in perceived hoaxes if they fail to “promptly and reasonably inform one or more parties… of the actual nature of the activity” once they learn about investigative action taking place. In the case of Boston, this means that everyone involved could be sued for not immediately informing the police of the campaign upon receiving news of the emergency reaction.

(via Reddit)

3 Comments

  1. Although the Mooninite scare was determined to not be a hoax (but rather an unfortunate series of poor decisions)

    It might have been determined to be that by a bunch of morons eager to avoid blame, but it was determined by everyone else to be the same bunch of morons acting hysterically.

    …everyone involved could be sued for not immediately informing the police of the campaign upon receiving news of the emergency reaction.

    Didn’t they? It shouldn’t have made much difference if they had (lest all a terrorist has to do is ring his local police station and reduce the police response to whatever it is he’s up to), but they should have done so nonetheless. Not that I’m taking Ars Technia’s word for it, just hypothetically.

  2. This is utterly ridiculous. Some people getting in trouble for what other people think? For the mistaken perceptions of others? What???

  3. Schmoo has a damned good point there – imagine creating a situation where a real terrorist really could just call the cops and say ‘sorry, mea culpa, those bomb-like devices are only an art project.’ Although such a disclaimer shouldn’t affect police actions I imagine a law like this could make such an approach effective – at least once.

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