Lying online no longer a crime in R.I.

Posted 7/4/12

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. General Assembly voted to repeal an obscure 1989 law that made lying on the Internet a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $500.

The original law, which was written to stop fraud, made it illegal to lie about anything online by outlawing the “transmission of false data.” Unintentionally, it became illegal for Rhode Islanders to lie about things like age or weight on an online dating site.

"This law made virtually the entire population of Rhode Island a criminal," Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union told The Associated Press.

"When this bill was enacted nobody had any idea what its ramifications were. Telling fibs may be wrong, but it shouldn't be criminal activity," he added.

Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee signed the measure repealing the law last week.

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