Holding that an Alaska criminal statute threatened to reduce all speech on the Internet “to only what is fit for children,” the Federal District Court in Anchorage permanently barred enforcement of that statute because it violates First Amendment rights of free speech.

In a lawsuit brought by Alaska booksellers, librarians, a photographer, and other First Amendment and media organizations, Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline held that Senate Bill 222, which could have made anyone who operates a website criminally liable for posting material deemed “harmful to minors,” would have chilled free expression.

“There are no reasonable technological means that enable a speaker on the Internet to ascertain the actual age of persons who access their communications,” the Court held. “Individuals who fear the possibility of a minor receiving speech intended for an adult may refrain from exercising their right to free speech at all – an unacceptable result.”

Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska, said, “Alaskans value our freedoms. The court has ensured Alaskans’ Internet communications will remain free from unreasonable government infringement.”