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NetChoice Sues Arkansas for Violating the First Amendment


FORT SMITH, Ark.—Today, NetChoice filed a lawsuit against the state of Arkansas in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas to protect constitutional freedoms in the Digital Age. 

In passing SB 396, Arkansas has violated the U.S. Constitution by making Arkansans’ First Amendment rights contingent on them handing over their private data. 

Signed in April by the Governor, SB 396 violates the First Amendment while putting the data of all internet users—especially minors—at increased risk of breach. 

“We’re suing Arkansas today to protect First Amendment rights and keep online speech accessible,” said NetChoice Litigation Center Director Chris Marchese. “This law empowers the state to tell Arkansans what types of information they’re allowed to access online, forces them to hand over their most sensitive documents to use the internet, and seizes decision making from parents and families. That is an unconstitutional power grab, and we’re petitioning to put a stop to it.”

SB 396 also seriously threatens the safety and privacy of Arkansans—and especially teens—online by forcing online services to use a third party service to track, verify, and store information on minors. Even more worrisome, users don’t interact with the third party service that is actually handling their documents. This means that Arkansans will be handing over their most private information to a company they don’t even know or have an established relationship with. At a time of increased cybersecurity threats online, these third-party services would be a prime target for hackers and bad actors. 

Our complaint also notes how SB 396 disregards existing federal protections for children online, which are outlined in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) and violates the Commerce Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

5 Reasons Why SB 396 Is Concerning for All Families:

  1. SB 396 makes Arkansans’ First Amendment rights contingent on whether they hand over their most sensitive, personal data. 
  2. It jeopardizes the security of all users, especially minors, by requiring them to surrender sensitive, personal information to third-parties they don’t know or trust.  
  3. ​​It ignores existing federal law on protecting kids online, violating the Supremacy Clause.
  4. It regulates the internet beyond Arkansas’ borders, violating the Commerce Clause. 
  5. Parents and guardians are best suited to decide how their families will interact with online services. SB 396 takes that freedom away from families and seizes it for the state. 

You can find our official filing here and a web page detailing our resources for the case here

For inquiries, please contact Krista Chavez at