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Arizona Law Will Make it a Crime to be Annoying on the Internet

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A new law passed by the Arizona Legislature and awaiting the signature of Republican Governor Jan Brewer could criminalize much of what gets posted on the Internet, thus raising serious First Amendment concerns. Arizona House Bill 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 the intent to "annoy," "offend," "harass" or "terrify." None of the terms placed in quote marks are defined in the statute or by reference. The law is not limited to one to one conversations, and would apply to general communications on web sites, blogs, listserves and other Internet communication.

As the Media Coalition pointed out in an open letter to the Arizona Legislature, the statute would make much public discourse illegal, including some of the speech of right-wing...

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