SW Legal Educational Publishing

Georgia Enjoined from Enforcing Statute Restricting Certain Classes of Internet Transmissions
Description Georgia criminal statute imposed a restriction on anonymous electronic information transfers, and from using a trademark or other protected symbol without approval. A challenge to the statute won preliminary injunction against its enforcement due to likelihood of success of challenge to the wide coverage of the speech restriction.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Internet, First Amendment, Criminal Law
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Georgia passed a statute making it a crime for "any person ... knowingly to transmit any data through a computer network ... for the purpose of setting up, maintaining, operating, or exchanging data with an electronic mailbox, home page, or any other electronic information storage bank or point of access to electronic information if such data uses any individual name ... to falsely identify the person." The same restriction applied for data using any trade name, trademark, logo, or copyrighted symbol "which would falsely state or imply that such person ... has permission ... to use [it] for such purpose when such permission ... has not been obtained." The ACLU and others contend the statute is unconstitutional in restricting their right to communicate anonymously over the Internet, as well as their right to use trade names and such in a manner held to be constitutional in other contexts.
District Court Decision A preliminary injunction was issued preventing Georgia from enforcing the statute pending final determination. Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the statute is too sweeping in its coverage. Language regulating speech must be narrowly tailored to survive First Amendment challenges. This statute is not.
Citation American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia v. Miller, ---F.Supp.--- (1997 WL 552487 (N.D., Ga.)
977 F. Supp 1228 (N.D. Ga., 1997)

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