The US state of Florida has unwittingly made the use of smartphones, tablets, PCs and any other device that can connect to the internet illegal, according to an internet cafe owner whose business was forcibly shut down by the ban. She has filed a lawsuit against the state that illustrates how a recent Nill to cut down on internet gambling is been so hastily written as to outlaw all connected devices.
After a scandal earlier in the year in which a charity was alleged to be an internet gambling front, a Bill was passed to prohibit the use of electronic gambling devices, including PCs used for online gambling - nicknamed the "internet cafe ban". This prompted the shutdown of all internet cafes in the state, including Incredible Investments owned by Consuelo Zapata, which provides internet access to migrant workers in Miami.
It is Zapata who has filed the lawsuit which claims that the wording used in the original Bill is unconstitutional because it actually applies to every device that can be used to access gambling websites, and therefore every internet-connected device in the state of Florida.
The Bill redefines an illegal slot machine as "any machine or device or system or network of devices that is adapted for use in such a way that, upon activation, which may be achieved by, but is not limited to, the insertion of any piece of money, coin, account number, code, or other object or information". That, says Justin Kaplan, Zapata's lawyer, includes all computers and mobile devices including "the ones they used to draft this legislation".
"They rushed to judgement and they took what they saw as a very specific problem and essentially criminalised everything," he said.