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Civil Liberties Groups: California Ballot Measure Violates Free Speech Civil Liberties Groups: California Ballot Measure Violates Free Speech

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Civil Liberties Groups: California Ballot Measure Violates Free Speech

November 7, 2012

Two civil liberties groups are going to court to block a newly approved California proposition that critics say could undermine free speech.

Proposition 35 is aimed at combating human trafficking and child pornography. Among its provisions are requirements that registered sex offenders turn over information about their Internet accounts and service providers.

"While the law is written very unclearly, this likely includes e-mail addresses, user names and other identifiers used for online political discussion groups, book and restaurant review sites, forums about medical conditions, and newspaper or blog comments," according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which argue that those provisions "are overly broad and violate the First Amendment."

The groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Wednesday, just a day after more than 80 percent of California voters approved the proposition.

"The ability to speak freely and even anonymously is crucial for free speech to remain free for all of us," Michael Risher, a staff attorney for ACLU-NC, said in a statement. "Stopping human trafficking is a worthy goal, but this portion of Prop 35 won't get us there."

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