Florida House Bill 75


Summary

Florida House Bill 75 would bar the distribution or transmission by a minor of any image that contains nudity and is harmful to minors by electronic means, including the internet.

Existing Florida law makes illegal the dissemination by any person of such material by electronic means directly to a specific minor.

Status

Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law. It goes into effect October 1, 2011.

Analysis

Unlike the existing Florida law, this bill is not limited to direct communication with a specific individual known by the sender to be a minor. Rather, it restricts material harmful to minors that is generally available on the internet, public listservs or in public chatrooms. There is a substantial body of case law striking down similar state and federal legislation that restricted such content on the internet because these laws deprive adults of their First Amendment rights.

The only laws restricting content on the internet that have not been struck down are similar to Florida’s existing statute and are limited to speech illegal for minors and is intended to be communicated to a known person the speaker has specific, rather than general, knowledge is a minor, and the speaker directed the speech to that person. States have also passed laws to outlaw such speech if it is tied to an otherwise illegal activity, such as luring or enticing a minor.

History

  • The bill was pre-filed [2] on December 16, 2010 and referred to the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice. As introduced, the bill barred a minor from sending an image of himself or herself that is “harmful to minors.”
  • The subcommittee recommended the bill be passed on March 22, 2011. The bill is referred to the House Committee on Judiciary. The committee recommended the bill be passed on April 8, 2011.
  • The bill was amended [3] on the House floor on April 29, 2011. The amendment broadens the scope of the bill to any image that is “harmful to minors,” instead of just images of the minor who is sending the image. The House passed the bill as amended and sent it to the Senate.
  • The bill was referred to the Senate Committees on Criminal Justice; Judiciary; Communications, Energy and Public Utilities; and Budget. The bill was withdrawn from the committees on May 3, 2011 and sent to the Senate floor for a vote.
  • The Senate passed the bill on May 3, 2011. The bill was sent to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature on June 13, 2011.
  • On June 15, 2011, Media Coalition sent a memo [1] to Gov. Scott, requesting a veto of the bill. The memo explained the constitutional issues with the bill.
  • Gov. Scott signed the bill into law on June 21, 2011. It goes into effect October 1, 2011.

Last updated: Aug 31, 2015