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Arizona Legislature Passes Sweeping Electronic Speech Censorship Bill

• CBLDF via MediaCoalition.com/DailyPaul
 Yesterday, the Arizona legislature passed Arizona House Bill 2549, which would update the state’s telephone harassment law to apply to the Internet and other electronic communications. 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 on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk awaiting her decision on whether to veto or sign the bill.

Media Coalition
, a trade association protecting the First Amendment rights of content industries, whose membership includes CBLDF, has been active in opposing the bill. On March 14, Media Coalition sent a memo to the Senate Rules Committee regarding constitutional infirmities in H.B. 2549. Yesterday they sent a letter to Governor Brewer urging her to veto the bill.

That letter outlines the constitutional deficiencies in the bill:

H.B. 2549 would make it a crime to use any electronic or digital device to communicate using obscene, lewd or profane language or to suggest a lewd or lascivious act if done with intent to “annoy,” “offend,” “harass” or “terrify.” The legislation offers no definitions for “annoy,” “offend,” “harass” or “terrify.” “Electronic or digital device” is defined only as any wired or wireless communication device and multimedia storage device. “Lewd” and “profane” are not defined in the statute or by reference. “Lewd” is generally understood to mean lusty or sexual in nature and “profane” is generally defined as disrespectful or irreverent about religion or religious practices.

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