Did Florida just ban all smartphones and laptops?

Legislation hurriedly written -- and approved by the governor -- appears to ban any "system or network of devices" that may be used in a game of chance. Oh, oopsie.

Illegal in Florida? Josh Miller/CNET

Writing legislation isn't easy.

You might have to employ dozens of interns, forgetting to pay them any money, and hope they can write -- and even spell.

Please, therefore, indulge Florida, which seems to have written legislation banning every single smartphone and laptop in the state.

According to the Huffington Post, Florida's overly stressed politicians recently banned all slot machines and Internet cafes, which might annoy a tourist or two in Miami.

Oddly enough for a state that seems to wheel and deal more than many, the idea was to put the squeeze on illegal gambling.

However, Incredible Investments -- owner of an Internet cafe -- took one look at the legislation passed and guffawed with grief.

For the wording was so broad as to be more absurd that the average clubgoer's garb in Miami Beach.

It seems to ban "any system or network of devices" that can be used in a game of chance.

The Miami Herald obtained a copy of a lawsuit (PDF) brought by Incredible Investments against the state. It pleads that the legislation is incredibly unconstitutional.

It says in part that the new Floridian definition of a slot machine includes...

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, such device or system is directly or indirectly caused to operate or may be operated and if the user, whether by application of skill or by reason of any element of chance or any other outcome unpredictable by the user.

Well, let's stop there. The drift is clear.

The suit pleads that Incredible Investments has had to cease its game promotions, for fear that they transgress the new ill-written law.

The suit does attempt a little flick-knife flash toward the state's lawmakers. It says that the law was passed "in a frenzy fueled by distorted judgment."

Oh, nothing is distorted in Florida. Because, some might say, everything is. (Often this is a good thing.)

Technically Incorrect is, however, a work of self-help. So we need to go through a couple of pointers, should a policeman attempt to divest you of your smartphone on the street, accusing it of being a slot machine.

Miami's police personnel have been said to be robust types (especially as chronicled in the works of the brilliant Carl Hiaasen).

So should a uniformed policeman demand your Galaxy S4 and accuse it of being an illegal gaming device, please do not use excessive resistance.

I am not convinced that Florida's "stand your ground" law will apply here. Please smile graciously and suggest that you are in possession of a mere smartphone. You might add that this is an extremely legal device in all America's states.

After all, the president has one (albeit a BlackBerry) and John McCain recently complained to Tim Cook about having to constantly upgrade the apps on his iPhone.

I feel sure the policeman will understand and even shake his head at the fascinating nature of Florida politics.

 

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