Press Releases

ACLU-TN Readies Challenge Against Online Harassment Law

Press Release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, June 28, 2011:

ACLU of Tennessee Prepared to Challenge New “Offensive Images” Law Broad Attempt to Curb Internet Harassment Could Turn Any User into a Criminal

NASHVILLE – Responding to numerous requests for assistance and after a thorough legal analysis, ACLU-TN today announced plans to file a lawsuit challenging Public Chapter 362, which violates the guarantee of freedom of speech and expression under the First Amendment. This new law, which goes into effect on July 1, would make it a crime to post any image online that causes “emotional distress” to any individual.

“This new law creates a chilling effect on expressive political, artistic, and otherwise lawful speech and also turns political activists, artists and others into criminals,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director. “In addition, anyone with an online presence, such as social media users, becomes vulnerable.”

The “offensive images” law was intended to curtail internet harassment but provides no criteria for determining what is offensive or disturbing. The new law’s overly broad and vague language leaves everyone with an online presence vulnerable to prosecution.

“ACLU of Tennessee continues to respond to the flood of inquiries by Tennesseans concerned about the freedom of speech implications of the new law and are prepared to take action against this blatantly unconstitutional law,” said Tricia Herzfeld, ACLU-TN Legal Director.

Individuals who believe their freedom of speech and expression will be limited by the new law should contact ACLU-TN here.

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