Thursday, 4 December 2008

Emoticons on trial

The Wall Street Journal law blog picked up a story from Nebraska, where the Nebraska Supreme Court is mulling whether emoticons can amount to illegal entrapment. The full story is in the Lincoln, NE Journal Star. The case is an appeal from a James Pischel, a 31-year-old man sent to prison for using his computer to entice a 15-year-old girl who turned out to be a police investigator. Pischel's attorney says the state investigator entrapped Pischel by using emoticons to play with his emotions after he had said no thanks — she was too young — two months earlier. When Pischel said he wouldn’t meet, the investigator sent an angry face >:( emoticon. When Pischel tried to end the chat without contacting the “girl” again, the investigator blew him a “kiss” :-{} . Chief Justice Michael Heavican asked how specifically someone can “blow a kiss” online and got a lesson in emoticons when he was told it was done by typing certain keys that create a picture, similar to a smiley face made by a colon and a parenthesis. Pischel's lawyer argues that this adds up to government inducement.

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