US grand jury adds GIF to the list of deadly weapons

When you think of a criminal’s toolset, you might think guns or knives are the industry standard. Not any more, a US grand jury has agreed that a GIF can now be considered a deadly weapon.

US grand jury adds GIF to the list of deadly weapons

Most GIFs tend to contain our favourite Game of Thrones references (among other things). But, this unusual ruling comes from the case against John Rayne Rivello who sent a flashing GIF to a journalist he is said to have known suffered from epilepsy.

Journalist Kurt Eichenwald was the recipient of the flashing GIF and had previously spoken about his condition publicly. The GIF apparently contained text reading “You deserve a seizure for your post.”

Legal minds are flummoxed over the jury’s ruling, understandable as lawyers surely use GIFs as much as everyone else. It certainly appears to be the first time a tweet, GIF and mobile phone were considered in the same light as a letter bomb, but there you go.

Nevertheless, Danielle Citron, cybersecurity expert at the University of Maryland, likened it to hacking into an insulin pump to kill a diabetic. It appears the crime of the future may be here.

Is it time people were more careful with their use of the ever-popular GIF? America is no stranger to violent crime; gun regulation is always a hot topic. However, whether the Texan grand jury’s precedent will see Rivello convicted is unknown.

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