Bad law and unintended consequences: Florida law might have banned computers and smartphones

You know, there was a time when those crafting the law actually consulted people who knew about the topic. These days legislators seem to just shoot from the hip and they’re not proving to be real good shots. In an apparent attempt to crack down on illegal gambling a law signed by the Florida Governor bans “slot machines” – presumably outside of certain, acceptable locations – but the people who wrote the definition kinda went wide of the mark:

The bill defines slot machines as "any machine or device or system or network of devices" that may be used in a game of chance.

Considering that any computer, tablet, or smartphone capable of connecting to the Internet can be used in games of chance, a general reading of that bill would seems to indicate that such devices are now banned in Florida. Which, naturally, has generated a lawsuit and the closure of something like 1000 Internet cafés. The story says that the closure of the Internet cafés was intention and was, in fact, the target of the law. Really? They were looking to close down businesses that are, effectively, Starbucks without the mermaid? I’m not sure how you crack down on illegal gambling by banning companies that are merely allowing people to access the Internet but that’s part of the lawsuit. What bothers me is that anyone with a basic level of understanding about information systems or networks would have seen this definition and raised an alarm, or they should have. Seriously, Florida’s legislators should be looking to their staff and asking, “what the hell?” Oh, and this law should get a serious re-write and soon.

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