What’s the First Amendment issue with legislation against cyberstalking?

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

It has to do with distinguishing between protected freedom of speech and speech that is not protected. Most of the new laws passed by states require that, for online communications to be considered “stalking,” they must constitute harassment of a person that places the person in reasonable fear for his or her safety. Courts have upheld stalking legislation that deals with threats because the First Amendment does not protect true threats. But some of the measures go beyond punishing true threats and proscribe “annoying” speech.