Lady Justice

Florida Lawmakers Accidentally Outlaw Smartphones and Computers

Lady Justice

I often complain on these pages about the problem with politicians being extremely poor at actually understanding and drafting laws – whether they are to protect intellectual property or limit abuses of the press. This isn;t only a UK problem, however, with Florida lawmakers showing a poor grasp of the law by passing a law which has such broad wording that it actually bans the use of smartphones and computers in the state, not just internet cafes and internet gambling as was the aim.

In a flurry of controversy with a politician resigning after it was found a company she represented was actually a front for an internet gambling enterprise, the state lawmakers banned declared that any electronic device that is capable of playing a “game of chance” on the Internet to be illegal. Whoops.

We’ll ignore for the time being that outlawing internet cafes removes the ability of migrant workers and the poor from accessing many public services and information when they cannot afford a computer or smartphone, and that internet gambling is legal around the world and blocking it is futile – making the law ineffective at best. But if ever there was proof that politicians would make terrible lawyers and have no real understanding of the web or modern technologies then this is it.

[Photograph by Emmanuel Huybrechts]

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