Court Blocks Voter-Approved Muzzle on Internet Speech

Broadly written measure raises serious First Amendment concerns


A few hours after EFF and the ACLU of Northern California filed a class action lawsuit in San Francisco federal court challenging California's recently enacted Proposition 35, the court issued a temporary restraining order, blocking implementation of the initiative due to the existence of "serious questions" about whether it violated the First Amendment.

Proposition 35 is ostensibly about increasing punishment for human traffickers, but would also require all registered sex offenders in California to turn over a list of all their Internet identifiers and service providers to law enforcement. Leading up to the election, we urged California voters to reject it, worrying this would result in a significant restriction of free speech on the Internet. We weren't alone in criticizing Proposition 35. Newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee spoke out against the initiative too. Unfortunately yet unsurprisingly, California voters overwhelmingly approved the initiative on election night.