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Web Censorship Law Stalled

A federal judge has barred a state Internet censorship law from going into effect July 1, concluding it would be unconstitutional and a burden on interstate commerce.

U.S. District Court Judge LeRoy Hansen granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday, as sought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He has asked attorneys for more information.

Under the law signed March 9 by Gov. Gary Johnson, it would be illegal to produce online material pertaining to sex that would be harmful to minors.

The ACLU challenged the law one year after the Supreme Court threw out a federal Internet censorship law, saying it restricted free speech and threatened a large number of Internet users.

"The content on the Internet is as diverse as human thought," said Ann Beeson, an ACLU lawyer. She said it would threaten interstate commerce by regulating Internet material from other states.

The state contended that the law applies only to one-on-one communication between a minor and an adult who knowingly and intentionally produces pornography for a minor. The law is narrow enough to exclude those who use nudity in teaching, for example, said Steven Bunch, an assistant attorney general.
The judge said he was unclear about what happens if illegal Internet material comes from outside the state or if that material goes to another state.

Written by Derrick Henry