Another Online Censorship Bill Struck Down in Alaska

Jul 4, 2011 12:00 PM PST

ANCHORAGE — Another attempt to censor the Internet has been struck down by a federal judge in Alaska.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline sided with a group of plaintiffs who filed suit last August against legislation that would have held adults criminally liable for distributing sexually explicit materials to minors over the Internet.

The plaintiffs claimed that the legislation, signed by Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell last year, violated the 1st Amendment and Beistline agreed, striking down the law, ArsTechnica reports.

He said that the Internet doesn’t have a reliable mechanism for verifying the age of Internet users.

“"Individuals who fear the possibility of a minor receiving speech intended for an adult may refrain from exercising their right to free speech at all," he wrote. “The Government may not reduce the adult population to only what is fit for children."

The state of Alaska argued that the law was meant to target sexual predators who sent porn to children, but Beistline didn’t buy the argument saying that the law wasn’t clear enough.

"If the Legislature intends this statute to only criminalize the grooming of children for sexual abuse, the Legislature can say so,” he wrote.

The plaintiffs pointed out in their lawsuit that six other states have tried to pass similar Internet laws, only to be ruled as unconstitutional by the courts.

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