Arizona Passes Internet Censorship Law
Thursday, 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.
If passed, the law could create vulnerabilities for cartoonists and publishers who publish material online intended to shock, satirize, and criticize.
Beyond the example of the Mohammad cartoons listed in the Media Coalition letter, the taboo-pushing work of cartoonists like R. Crumb, Johnny Ryan, and Ivan Brunetti would potentially be vulnerable to prosecution, as could incendiary works such as Frank Miller’s Holy Terror and Dave Sim’s Cerebus.
Similarly, the culture of message boards, within and beyond comics, would be imperiled. With more titles released digitally each week, and an extremely active online ecosystem of professional and fan exchange, laws like this one are extremely worrisome for the creators, publishers, and readers of comics.
THIS IS URGENT! Tell Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill and stand against internet censorship.
Phoenix Office: (602) 542-4331
Tucson Office: (520) 628-6580
Fax Number: (602) 542-1381
You can also email the Governor through her website http://www.azgovernor.gov/Contact.asp