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Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of law, culture, technology, and politics. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Florida Supreme Court upholds "harmful to minors" e-mail law



The biggest difference was that in those earlier lawsuits, the 
plaintiffs were pillars of society including the American Library 
Association, the Magazine Publishers of America, the Association of 
American Publishers, and the Interactive Digital Software Association. 
Having top-tier law firms from New York and Washington didn't hurt either.

In the Florida case, though, the person unsuccessfully assailing the law 
was a far less sympathetic litigant named Michael John Simmons. He's 
currently on probation after being charged with trying to pick up a "13 
year old girl" named Sandi in an Internet chat room and arranging to 
have sex in a motel room.


The judge who wrote the unanimous opinion was Justice Peggy Quince.
Quince undertook something akin to legal gyrations in an attempt to 
differentiate the law that Simmons was charged with violating from the 
nearly identical laws that courts have considered before. The New Mexico 
statute, she said, was much more "broad." The Virginia law applied to 
"all" forms of electronic communication, she said, not just e-mail. The 
federal law targeted exclusively the Web, she wrote.

Then Quince ran into a second hurdle: the Florida statute explicitly 
covers only e-mail, and Simmons used instant messaging in his chats with 
"Sandi." So the justice decided the definition of e-mail should be 
expanded to include "both email and electronic mail sent by instant 
messaging," which let her uphold the lower court's sentence.


Posted by Declan McCullagh on Nov 17, 2006 in category free-speech

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