The area420info.com website is not intended to threaten or harass anybody. It has 2 purposes 1) To locate other victims of Potch LLC's alleged fraud and other illegal acts and 2) To share most of the information that this site had discovered with future potential victims, letting them make an informed decision and hopefully prevent them potentially being swindled by Potch LLC as many previous victims allege they have been. We are also sharing our numerous victims stories with all the relevant law enforcement agencies, some of which are already looking into this alleged large scale fraud. The site is fully protected under the USA broad 1st Amendment protection of almost ALL online speech. See below for more detailed clarification. This issue will soon be resolved in court. I have all the patience in the world as I know these people will be bought to book at some stage in the near future.

Online Speech and the First Amendment: Ten Principles from the Supreme Court

  1. The First Amendment’s protections apply to online speech as much as to offline speech.

    The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the freedom of speech.” This core principle applies whether the speech in question is shared in a public square or on the internet. As the Supreme Court recently stated, today, “the most important place[] . . . for the exchange of views[] . . . is cyberspace.” Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730, 1735 (2017). Indeed, the Supreme Court recognized more than two decades ago that the internet houses “vast democratic forums,” and there is therefore “no basis for qualifying the level of First Amendment scrutiny that should be applied” online. Reno v. Am. Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844, 868, 870 (1997). As Congress continues its important oversight of online platforms, it must not legislate in ways that would threaten free expression online.


  2. The First Amendment protects the right to receive and possess information, no matter where the information originates.

    The Supreme Court articulated this principle in 1969 when it overturned a Georgia law that made it a crime to possess pornographic films. The Court reasoned: “[T]his right to receive information and ideas, regardless of their social worth, is fundamental to our free society.” Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 564 (1969).


    The Court has also held that the receipt and possession of information are protected, regardless of the source of the information. Even at the height of the Cold War, the Court ruled that a federal law preventing the receipt of communist political propaganda in the mail from abroad constituted “an unconstitutional abridgment of the addressee's First Amendment rights.” Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S. 301, 306-07 (1965).


  3. The First Amendment protects speech that society may consider offensive or reprehensible, including indecent and hateful speech.

    In 1972, the Supreme Court explained that First Amendment protections are so broad because “the freedoms of speech, press, petition and assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment must be accorded to the ideas we hate or sooner or later they will be denied to the ideas we cherish.” Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 188 (1972). There, the Court overturned a state-supported college’s decision to refuse to recognize a local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a leftist student activist organization.


    In 2017, the Court again made clear that First Amendment protections extend to speech that expresses hateful or derogatory viewpoints. After the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused to allow a band to trademark “The

    Slants” as its name, based on a federal law prohibiting “registration of trademarks that may ‘disparage...or bring... into contemp[t] or disrepute’ any persons,” the Court struck down the law as unconstitutional.

    The Court emphasized that “speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate.’” Matal v. Tam, 137

    S. Ct. 1744, 1764 (2017), citing United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644, 655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting).



    Speech that may be considered “indecent” is also protected. The government may not regulate such speech unless it is obscene, a narrow legal category that includes only speech that appeals to a prurient interest in sex or depicts certain sexual conduct in a “patently offensive” way, each as defined by local norms, and lacks “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 24 (1973). In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that a law prohibiting the transmission of pornography over the internet was unconstitutional, explaining that “[s]exual expression which is indecent but not obscene is protected by the First Amendment.” Reno v. Am. Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844, 868, 870 (1997).


  4. Political speech and advocacy are at the core of First Amendment protection.

    The First Amendment protects the right of any person to engage in political speech and advocacy, regardless of whether it concerns a particular issue, public official, or candidate for office. In 1966, the Supreme Court struck down an Alabama law that made it a crime for a newspaper editor to publish an election-day editorial that sought to persuade people to vote in a particular way. The Court held that it would be “difficult to conceive of a more obvious and flagrant abridgment of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of

    the press,” reasoning that the First Amendment exists to “protect the free discussion of governmental affairs.” Mills v. State of Ala., 384 U.S. 214, 218 (1966).


  5.  5. The First Amendment protects anonymous speech.

    Anonymous political speech has long been part of the American tradition and is constitutionally protected. In 1995, the Supreme Court struck down an Ohio prohibition on the distribution of anonymous campaign literature. The Court held that “an author's decision to remain anonymous…is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.” The Court went on to explain that legislators cannot ban anonymous political speech because anonymity “exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation— and their ideas from suppression—at the hand of an intolerant society.” As such, it serves as “a shield from the tyranny of the majority.” McIntyre v. Ohio

    Elections Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334, 342, 357 (1995).

  6.       The First Amendment protects false speech and speech criticizing public figures.

    First Amendment protections extend to speech that is false and they substantially protect false statements that may damage the reputations of public figures. In 1964, the Supreme Court overturned a state court’s judgment in favor of a public official who claimed that certain speakers defamed him, ruling that public officials must prove that the speakers either purposefully lied or spoke with reckless disregard for whether their statements were true. The Court explained that we have “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,” and that means “it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 283 (1964).


    Speech that is not defamatory is protected even if the speaker knows it is false, as long as it does not cause specific harm. In 2012, the Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, a federal law that made it a crime to falsely claim receipt of military decorations or medals. The Court explained that “[t]he remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society.” United States v. Alvarez, 567 U.S. 709, 727-29 (2012).


  7. The First Amendment protects against government attempts to target speech based on its content.

    The constitution sharply limits the government’s ability to enact laws that target speech based on the topics it covers or the views it expresses. The Supreme Court reinforced this long-standing principle in 1991 when it struck down New York’s “Son of Sam” law, which required all proceeds from a book written by an accused or convicted criminal to go to a special Crime Victims Board. The Court explained that “the government's ability

    to impose content-based burdens on speech raises the specter that the government may effectively drive certain ideas or viewpoints from the marketplace,” holding that “[t]he First Amendment presumptively places this sort of discrimination beyond the power of the government.” Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Members of New York State Crime Victims Bd., 502 U.S. 105, 116 (1991).


  8. The First Amendment protects against government efforts to impose prior restraints on publications.

    The Supreme Court has roundly rejected attempts by the government to censor speech prior to publication. In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that a state commission to review literature for “obscene, indecent or impure language” and investigate and recommend prosecution of the distribution of those materials constituted an unconstitutional prior restraint. The Court held that “[a]ny system of prior restraints of expression comes to this Court bearing

    a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity,” such that the government cannot enjoin “particular publications” that it finds “objectionable” without a prior “judicial determination[] that such publications may lawfully be banned.” Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58, 70 (1963). To pass constitutional muster, prior restraints must also, at a minimum, be necessary to further a governmental interest of the highest magnitude. Nebraska Press Ass'n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539, 562-66 (1976), and must include clear, narrow standards about what the government can restrain. Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, 394 U.S. 147, 150-51 (1969).

  9. The First Amendment protects individuals from being compelled by the government to communicate messages with which they disagree.

    In addition to guaranteeing individuals’ rights to say what they want, the First Amendment protects them from being compelled by the government to say something against their will. In 1943, the Supreme Court struck down a state regulation requiring students to salute the flag or be expelled from school. The Court explained that “if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943).


  10. T      The First Amendment protects speakers’ rights by limiting liability for intermediaries.

The First Amendment limits the liability that may be imposed on third parties who enable speakers to reach an audience, in order to protect the rights of speakers who depend on them. In Smith v. California, for example, the Court said that booksellers could not be strictly liable for obscene content in books they sell, because cautious booksellers would over-enforce, removing both legal and illegal books from the shelves. The resulting “censorship affecting the whole public” would be “hardly less virulent for being privately administered.” 361 U.S. 147, 154 (1959). In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the Court observed that failing to protect the New York Times from liability for third party advertisements “would discourage newspapers from carrying ‘editorial advertisements’

… and so might shut off an important outlet for the promulgation of information and ideas by persons who do not themselves have access to publishing facilities[.]” Sullivan, 376 U.S. at 266. The same principles apply to laws holding today’s internet intermediaries liable for users’ speech. Restrictive rules, which effectively outsource censorship of lawful speech to powerful private companies, may violate the First Amendment.


PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS & CONTACT INFORMATION:


American Civil Liberties Union

Kate Ruane kruane@aclu.org

Electronic Frontier Foundation

David Greene davidg@eff.org

 

Corynne McSherry corynne@eff.org

 

Brennan Center for Justice

New America's Open Technology Institute

Faiza Patel patelf@brennan.law.nyu.edu

 

Supreme Court Decision on Reckless Speech 

Will Cost Victims of Stalking and Harassment

 

https://msmagazine.com/2023/06/29/supreme-court-online-stalking-harassment-women-free-speech-counterman-v-colorado/

The Supreme Court ruling in Counterman v. Colorado will reduce protections for victims of stalking, verbal abuse and online harassment and have a chilling effect on prosecutors.

 

 

The Supreme Court issued a ruling on June 27 in Counterman v. Colorado, holding that a speaker’s subjective intention must be considered when determining whether speech is a “true threat” and thus punishable notwithstanding the First Amendment. The decision requires that a speaker must have been aware of the “threatening character” of the speech but delivered it anyway, and was thus reckless in their actions. The holding will limit protections for victims of stalking, verbal abuse and online harassment and increase the burden on prosecutors who must now provide evidence of the speaker’s state of mind.

After a surprise holding earlier this month in a voting rights case, Allen v. Milligan, where Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh sided with the three liberal justices to find that Alabama’s voting map was racially gerrymandered, another interesting alignment found Justice Kagan writing the Counterman opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Kavanaugh and Jackson. Justice Sotomayor filed a separate concurring opinion, in which Justice Gorsuch joined, and Justices Barrett and Thomas joined in a dissenting opinion.

The majority opinion held that the First Amendment protects speech unless the speaker has “some subjective understanding of his statements’ threatening nature.” To secure a criminal conviction, prosecutors must “show that the defendant consciously disregarded a substantial risk that his communications would be viewed as threatening violence.”

The case was an appeal from Billy Raymond Counterman, a Colorado man who sent thousands of unsolicited messages to a local female musician over a period of two years. Though she repeatedly blocked him on social media, he opened new accounts to send messages that she found threatening in their cumulative effect. A jury sentenced Counterman to more than four years in prison for stalking.

In his appeal, Counterman argued that determining whether speech constitutes a true threat must take into account the mental state of the speaker rather than only considering whether a reasonable person would find the speech threatening. Since he never intended his messages to be threatening, he argued that they should be protected by the First Amendment. The Court agreed that Colorado prosecutors should be required to prove that Counterman consciously accepted a substantial risk of inflicting serious harm when he sent his messages.

Lynn Hecht Schafran, senior vice president of Legal Momentum, a legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the rights of women and girls, expressed disappointment at the ruling.

“We are disappointed that the Court did not affirm the objective standard for proving true threat and concerned, as both the United States and Colorado warned at oral argument, that any heightened standard would discourage prosecution of true threat stalking cases,” she said. “We are also relieved that the subjective standard the Court adopted was a lower recklessness standard, which will allow victims to educate the court about the context of the stalker’s behavior, explaining why the victim understands as true threat behavior which, to an onlooker, seems harmless.”

The decision was considered a win for civil liberties organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that the First Amendment precludes convicting defendants for speech they did not intend to be threatening. 

While consideration of a defendant’s state of mind—or mens rea—is a hallmark of criminal law, centering the subjective intent of the speaker in cases of stalking and verbal and online harassment, as the Court has done by adopting this recklessness standard, will reduce protections for victims and have a chilling effect on prosecutors wary of this heightened requirement.

Women are four times more likely to experience stalking than men, which means that the Court’s decision will have a disproportionate impact on the mostly female victims of stalking and verbal abuse who turn to the legal system for protection. And the Court’s ruling doesn’t just raise the bar for Colorado prosecutions: Twenty-five states with similar laws, who supported Counterman’s conviction, will now have to apply this recklessness standard.  

Applying a recklessness standard will make it impossible to hold speakers accountable for objectively threatening speech if prosecutors cannot prove that the speaker knowingly disregarded a substantial risk that the speech would be considered threatening.

The Court’s concern about chilling non-threatening speech will come at a cost, as prosecutors will be discouraged from bringing cases where it would be difficult to prove recklessness, even if the victim was significantly harmed. The cost, therefore, will be paid by the mostly female victims of stalking and online and verbal harassment who won’t be given the protections they deserve.

Supreme Court backs free speech rules in online stalking case


Washington (AFP) – The US Supreme Court sided with free speech advocates Tuesday in ruling that a man's online harassment of a 

country singer could only be deemed illegally threatening if he knew it could be understood as such.

 

https://france24.com/en/live-news/20230627-supreme-court-backs-free-speech-rules-in-online-stalking-case 

 

The high court overruled the Colorado conviction of Billy Counterman for making what the western US state deemed threats among the thousands of unwelcome Facebook messages he sent to country singer Coles Whalen from 2014 to 2016.

True threats are not protected by the US Constitution's guarantee of free speech rights.

The Colorado court found based on state laws that Counterman's messages to Whalen -- such as writing "die, don't need you" and "staying in cyber life is going to kill you" -- could be objectively considered threats.

Counterman's attorney turned to the Supreme Court arguing that the only way of determining whether a message is a threat should be subjective: what was the sender's intent?

The case drew the interest of free speech advocates who worried that upholding Counterman's conviction would chill free speech protections by permitting the prosecution of anyone whose speech is perceived as threatening by another person, without proof of intent.

But Colorado had argued that requiring a subjective determination of the sender's intent would enable abuse of free speech rights, and specifically immunize stalkers "who are untethered from reality."

"Ninety percent of actual or attempted domestic violence murder cases begin with stalking," Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser had told the court.

But in their 7-2 opinion, the justices rejected Colorado's arguments.

They said it needed to prove Counterman had at least some awareness that his messages could be perceived as threats.

Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan did not completely bow to Counterman's argument that Colorado needed to prove he made a conscious threat against Whalen.

Instead, she said, the state only needed to prove that Counterman was being reckless.

"The state must show that the defendant consciously disregarded a substantial risk that his communications would be viewed as threatening violence," she wrote.

Based on legal precedents, according to Kagan, "we hold that a recklessness standard is enough" to convict.

The recklessness standard offers enough "breathing space" for protected speech without sacrificing the ability to enforce laws against true threats, she wrote.

In dissent, Justice Amy Coney Barret, backed by Clarence Thomas, said objective standards of what is threatening are supported by established law and enforced in many states.

She said the majority decision would make it harder to prosecute real threats, and that "recklessness" was a flimsy standard.

"The reality is that recklessness is not grounded in law, but in a Goldilocks judgement: Recklessness is not too much, not too little, but instead 'just right.'"

In response, Kagan wrote: "In law, as in life, there are worse things than being 'just right.'"

© 2023 AFP