Law \ Legal

Should Disinformation Be Criminalized? – The Crime Report

A concurring judge in a First Circuit Court decision finding that New Hampshire lawmakers did not run afoul of the Constitution in making it a crime to ridicule people with false statements believes that it’s time for the Supreme Court to overrule its precedent in this area, reports Thomas F. Harrison for the Courthouse News Service. The decision upholding the state’s criminal defamation law could become a vehicle for the Supreme Court to expand free speech.

“These laws have their genesis in undemocratic systems that criminalized any speech criticizing public officials,” said U.S. Circuit Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson. “It strikes me as out of touch with reality to suggest these laws are not being selectively harnessed or that these laws aren’t particularly susceptible to … abuse.” The New Hampshire Supreme Court case involves a comment posted online to a newspaper article by a man who accused the police officer described in the piece of being corrupt, and said the officer’s daughter was a prostitute. According to the ACLU, prosecutions for criminal defamation are on the increase as a result of social media.

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