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NetChoice sues Georgia over new online law

NetChoice sues Georgia over new online law

Georgia Lawsuit

NetChoice, an internet trade group, has filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia to block a new law set to take effect on July 1. The law requires online classified sites to collect data on high-volume sellers who advertise online but receive payment through cash or other offline methods. The group, which represents companies like Facebook parent Meta and Craigslist, argues that the Georgia law is preempted by an earlier federal law, violates the First Amendment rights of sellers, buyers, and online services, and is unconstitutionally vague.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Atlanta, seeks to temporarily block the law from taking effect and ultimately have it permanently voided. Supporters of the law, including Georgia retailers, claim that it is necessary to crack down on organized thieves who steal goods from stores and then sell them online.

NetChoice challenges Georgia’s online regulations.

They argue that the law closes a loophole in earlier legislation that only applied to sellers collecting electronic payments on platforms like Amazon and eBay. However, NetChoice contends that Georgia is attempting to force internet services to gather information about offline activity, which is outside the scope of the sites. The group also asserts that the law violates the First Amendment by imposing obligations on websites engaged in speech, even if it is paid advertising.

Chris Marchese, director of the NetChoice Litigation Center, stated, “If this law goes into effect, it will create regulatory chaos, benefit particular market incumbents at the expense of competition and the free market, and squash free expression.”

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The Georgia Attorney General’s office, led by Republican Chris Carr, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Carr is responsible for enforcing the law, which carries civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. The outcome of this legal battle could have significant implications for regulating online marketplaces and the balance between combating retail crime and protecting free speech and commerce on the internet.

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