Judge stops Virginia Net content law
- By IDG News Service, Nancy Weil
- Aug 11, 2000
A federal judge on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction halting enforcement
of a Virginia law that seeks to impose restrictions on Internet content
deemed "harmful" to minors.
District Court Judge James Michael ruled in favor of 19 plaintiffs who
filed suit to stop the law from taking effect. The plaintiffs include Internet
service provider PSINet Inc., along with bookstores, authors, electronic
businesses and the advocacy group People for the American Way.
The plaintiffs argue that the law imposes criminal penalties on constitutionally
protected speech and would harm both Internet speech and interstate electronic
commerce. They further contend that the law would affect the dissemination
of information other than pornography, including health and sex education
and works of art, and that it would extend beyond the borders of Virginia
because of the ubiquitous nature of the Internet.
Similar legislation has been struck down as an unconstitutional violation
of the First Amendment right to free speech in Michigan, New York and New
Mexico. Laws passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton
also have been ruled unconstitutional by federal courts, including the U.S.