Legislators have a pretty bad record on making reasonable laws related to technology, and we all know that sometimes laws get passed in a hurry without a full understanding of the implications of the law. That seems to be the case with a recent Florida law that makes all cell phones and computers illegal in the state.
The state wanted to crack down hard on internet gambling establishments that were masquerading as internet cafes. There was a multi-year investigation that resulted in more than 50 arrests and the resignation of the lieutenant governor. A bill (HB 155) was quickly passed to close loopholes in the state gambling laws.
The new law, as CyberSolutions notes, is aimed at shutting down “gambling cafes” bans “any machine or device or system or network of devices used to play games of chance or skill, which can be activated by not just inserting money, but an account number, code, or other object or information.”
Well, any smartphone or laptop can access games of chance, accept account numbers, contest or sweepstakes codes, and more than 1,000 internet cafes have been shut down under the new law. There is no wording that exempts personal devices either. So congratulations, Florida, you just made using the internet illegal since any device that can connect to the internet has the possibility of accessing contests, sweepstakes, online gaming sites, etc., and all such devices are illegal now under Florida law. Let’s put some more thought into legislative language next time…… OK?