Arizona law would criminalize being lewd or annoying on the Internet
By Muriel Kane
Friday, March 30, 2012
The Arizona state legislature apparently finds it difficult to tell the difference between a telephone and the Internet and has passed a bill that would extend the definition of harassment originally devised for phone conversations to anything communicated or published online.
As summarized by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, “The bill is sweepingly broad, and would make it a crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to ‘annoy,’ ‘offend,’ ‘harass’ or ‘terrify,’ as well as certain sexual speech. Because the bill is not limited to one-to-one communications, H.B. 2549 would apply to the Internet as a whole, thus criminalizing all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.”
The bill is currently awaiting Governor Jan Brewer’s signature, and the Media Coalition, which defends first amendment rights in the media, has sent her a letter outlining some of the problems with the legislation.