An Alaskan law that goes into effect on July 1, and deals with the electronic distribution of indecent material to minors, has come under fire by free speech advocates.
Section 11.61.128 of the Alaska Statutes, signed into law by Governor Sean Parnell (pictured hugging his predecessor) in May, calls for parties to be criminally liable for media transmissions (or hosting) of material that is considered “harmful to minors.” Additionally, violators can face up to two years in prison, could be forced to forfeit their business and would have to register as sex offenders.
Those in opposition label the law as “broad censorship,” and claim that “it bans from the Internet anything that may be ‘harmful to minors,’ including material adults have a First Amendment right to view.”
Hostility to the law has resulted in a lawsuit attempting to block it, brought forth by groups like the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, the Freedom To Read Foundation and the Association of American Publishers.
David Cheezum, co-owner of Fireside Books, also a member of the lawsuit, stated, “We carry 24,000 books and there is no way to know the contents of each one.”
Citing the First and Fourteenth Amendments, in addition to the Constitution's Commerce Clause, the lawsuit seeks to have the law declared unconstitutional.
Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska, added, "Its inevitable effect, if permitted to stand, is that Internet content providers will limit the range of their speech.”
The Alaskan Law sounds very similar to one struck down in Ohio earlier this year.