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Defamatory online statements today could be libelous years from now

Posted by   /  January 8, 2020  /  No Comments

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GOP lawmaker wants to allow limitless libel lawsuits on social media posts

 
Photo by Nick Youngson | Alpha Stock Images/CC BY-SA 3.0

By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

A Phoenix Republican is pushing to include social media comments to Arizona’s libel and slander laws and scrap the statute of limitations for defamatory statements published online, something a First Amendment attorney says would have far-reaching effects.

House Bill 2103, sponsored by Rep. John Allen, R-Phoenix, would add internet publications and posts to Arizona’s libel law and open up the statute of limitations. The bill says that, if the libel or slander is published on the internet, then penalties accrue “every day after it is first published until the original publication that is the basis for the action is removed from the internet.” 

“We’re just bringing it up to quality with changing technologies,” Allen told Arizona Mirror. 

However, local media attorney and First Amendment expert Dan Barr sees Allen’s bill a bit differently. 

“This would radically change the statute of limitations for libel,” Barr said. “It would mean that an article that was published years ago could be sued upon.”

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