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First Amendment concerns raised over bill to criminalize social media harassment

Posted by   /  February 10, 2020  /  No Comments

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By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Civil libertarians say a push by a top Republican lawmaker to rein in online harassment is so broad that it would curb online political speech, and could even criminalize tweets by President Donald Trump.

But House Majority Leader Warren Petersen defended his proposal, House Bill 2347, which adds social media to the statute that bars using electronic communications to harass someone, as little more than bringing the law into the 21st Century.

“This could be seen as a technical correction almost. (I) just want to modernize the statute,” Petersen told the House Technology Committee Feb. 5. 

He insisted that the bill doesn’t infringe on speech protected by the First Amendment, and said its purpose is to stop cyberbullying.

Darrell Hill, the policy director for ACLU Arizona, said that while Petersen’s intentions in that respect are laudable, the bill would criminalize speech on the internet. 


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