The Worst Internet Laws in America, Take Two

by on August 18, 2009 · 7 comments

iawful LogoBack in June, NetChoice introduced the iAWFUL (the Internet Advocates’ Watchlist for Ugly Laws) list as part of a broader effort to push back against America’s worst Internet legislation. Two months have passed, and while many of the bills in the top 10 have changed, they remain every bit as AWFUL.

Earlier today NetChoice unveiled the first major update of iAWFUL, which lists the 10 worst Internet bills/laws in America. The updated list includes five new items, with new laws in the top 2 slots.

It’s worth mentioning a few that fell off the list, in large part thanks to the pressure that Internet advocates exerted through iAWFUL:

#2 on the June iAWFUL list was a California bill that would have forced unworkable technical restrictions on the posting of photos to social networking pages. The bill’s sponsor responded by working with Internet advocates to fix problems with the measure.

#3 on the June iAWFUL list was a bill in Connecticut that would have required sales tax collection by out-of-state businesses that pay commissions to in-state affiliates. The Governor heard our concerns about the impact on in-state publishers and school charities, and has thus far kept this measure off the table in budget negotiations.

#5 on the June iAWFUL list was a Connecticut bill to let police conduct searches of homes where goods were being stored by online dealers – without having to obtain a search warrant. Thanks to iAWFUL publicity, this bill stalled in the House.

This is what iAWFUL is all about: creating positive change through informed advocacy.

Now for the bad news. For every measure that fell off the iAWFUL list, we found a truly AWFUL replacement.

#1 Toping the list is a Maine law that will limit teens’ access to online services and expose valuable websites to a rash of lawsuits. [TLF’s Berin Szoka has blogged about this here and here]. At the end of its last session, the Maine legislature voted to require Web sites to obtain “verifiable parental consent” before asking Maine teenagers to enter just their name and age.

#2  Hotel taxes on online travel websites.

#3  A New Jersey bill that turns social networking sites into harassment police.

For the full list, go to the NetChoice iAWFUL site.

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