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Rhode Island repeals internet lying law

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June 30, 2012

Rhode Island

By: George Sousouris

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island: Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) signed a measure passed by the General Assembly this month to repeal a 23 year old law that made it illegal to lie online. Until the repeal, lying on the internet in the state of Rhode Island was punishable by a fine of $500 and a maximum of one year in prison. The law was meant to crack down on internet scams and fraud, but opponents claim that it was an assault on the First Amendment.[1]

Steven Brown, the executive director of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union, claimed, "This law made virtually the entire population of Rhode Island a criminal. When this bill was enacted nobody had any idea what its ramifications were. Telling fibs may be wrong, but it shouldn't be criminal activity."[1]

Although rarely enforced, Rep. Christopher Blazejewski still felt that it needed to be repealed, stating, "We take freedom of speech very seriously in this country and we should be concerned about the real and serious possibility of further erosion to our First Amendment civil liberties."[1]

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