Ariz. bill would criminalize ‘annoying, offending’ words online

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

ABC News reports that people who “annoy or offend” others online could land in jail for up to six months under a new bill passed in Arizona.

H.B. 2549, described by supporters as an effort to limit “cyberbullying,” passed with bipartisan backing and awaits a minor technical change and Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature.

David Horowitz, executive director of the Media Coalition in New York, told that the overbreadth of the bill’s language would drastically curtail First Amendment free speech. The coalition, representing a number of groups, wrote a letter to Brewer urging her to veto the legislation.

Legal scholar Eugene Volokh said the measure “poses the danger of restricting a great deal of speech that is protected by the First Amendment.”