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SB 530- Update to the State of Texas Harassment Laws – Protects Free Speech

Senate Bill 530 was filed to curb certain types of online harassment. The law was amended to add a new element to the Texas Penal Code 42.07, Harassment.

Under the proposed law, which has passed the House and Senate vote, it would make it illegal to “publish on an Internet website, including a social media platform, repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to cause emotional distress, abuse, or torment to another person, unless the communications are made in connection with a matter of public concern.”

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The proposed law references Section 27.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code for the definition of a “matter of public concern.”

Specifically excluded from the illegal activities under the law would be the following:

  • A statement or activity regarding; a public official, public figure, or other person who has drawn substantial public attention due to the person’s official acts, fame, notoriety, or celebrity;
  • A matter of political, social, or other interest to the community; or
  • A subject of concern to the public.

This would mean, one has always been and always will be free from retaliation, or oppression for writing about public officials.

Such matter has been a topic of discussion amongst many people and even included one Police Chief filing false stalking charges to suppress such a right.

This also shows, no law has been in existence preventing public speech and publication about public officials. Such is a right of entitlement of the people and the Bill Analysis even suggests the language of reason to preserve such a right.