Home > News > Tenn. Law Targets 'Distressing' Images on Web • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options


Tenn. Law Targets 'Distressing' Images on Web

Tenn. Law Targets 'Distressing' Images on Web
Get XBIZ News
Jun 23, 2011 1:00 PM PDT    Text size: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee's governor has signed into law a measure that criminalizes a wide swath of expression protected by the 1st Amendment.

Starting July 1, those who publish online images that could "frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" to a victim or "a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities" could be sentenced to jail for one year.

Further, the criminal penalties can apply even in the "victim" doesn't ever actually see it, but someone else finds it distressing.

The legislation, House Bill No. 300, updates a law that makes it illegal to send communications where the sender reasonably knows would frighten, intimidate, or cause distress to the recipient.

The measure, as revised, now makes it a crime to publish an image on any website or service if someone else finds it emotionally disturbing.

Legal scholars, particularly those at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are appalled by the law because, simply put, it's impossible for a publisher to know whether an image might offend another.

The EFF, in a statement, also said the ban gives law enforcement a tool to selectively punish speech it doesn't like.

"The new law also says that social networking services must disclose communications and images to the government if it shows a court specific and articulable facts that there are 'reasonable grounds to believe that the contents of an electronic communication, or the records or other information sought, are relevant and material in an ongoing criminal investigation,' " said Marcia Hofmann, an EFF staff attorney.

Hoffman went on to say that this requirement contradicts the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which requires law enforcement — including state and local law enforcement in Tennessee — to get a warrant before seizing stored communications that are less than six months old.

"Even worse, Tennessee is in the Sixth Circuit, which held just a few months ago in United States vs. Warshak that the government must have a probable cause warrant to seize and search messages stored by communications service providers. Which means that the new law violates the 4th Amendment, too.

"In short, Tennessee's ban on posting distressing images is unconstitutional in more ways than one, and we hope to see the courts strike it down at the first opportunity."

More ways to get XBIZ News:  RSS Feeds  |  E-Newsletters  |  Desktop Widget  |  Mobile
Looking for porn star news and behind-the-scene videos? Check out XFANZ.com !


Data Privacy Is Tightening Up in the E.U.

Have you begun preparing for GDPR? If you are like most, you haven’t even heard of GDPR, but also if you are like most, it is going to affect your business, starting May 25, 2018. The GDPR, or General... More »

Preventing Legal Problems Before They Start

Dentists typically recommend that a person’s teeth be cleaned every six months and that oral X-rays be taken at least once every year. Internists recommend that a person receive a physical examination... More »

Could Adult Content Be Banned?

Earlier this month, I met with the Free Speech Coalition’s board of directors for our annual review. Despite the headwinds our industry faces, politically and economically, we are, as an organization,... More »
Stay informed of the latest industry developments. Get XBIZ newsletters delivered to your inbox. Subscribe today!
Enter email address:

* To manage existing subscriptions click here.

Submit your press release to
multiple news outlets with 1 click.
Subscribe to RSS news feeds or
add free content to your website.
Access XBIZ news and articles
with your mobile device.
Access the latest issues of the industry's leading trade publications in digital form. View online or download for offline viewing.


Latin America Adult Business Expo

Jul 10 - Jul 12
Cartagena, Colombia

XBIZ.net Paysite Meetup

Jul 13 - Jul 13
Barcelona, Spain

ANME Founders Show

Jul 16 - Jul 18
Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport


Aug 03 - Aug 06
Montreal, Quebec
Everyday thousands of business professionals browse XBIZ's industry directory for quality products and services. Not listed yet? Your company could be losing potential new business. Submit your company today!
Use XBIZ RSS feeds to stay informed of the latest industry developments or as a content syndication tool for your website!