Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Juries currently can find sexually oriented material to be obscene based on the community standards of the locality in which they reside. To determine whether sexual material that is transmitted over an international computer network is criminally obscene, one must comprehend the local community standards of every locality in the United States. The Supreme Court's use of this "local community standards" rule reflects a view of the local community as a relatively homogenous society in a distinct, geographically defined locality. When applied to international communications networks, this standard will excessively "chill" speech that is otherwise protected by the First Amendment. Exposure to such networks will alter local communities by making geographic distinctions less important and reducing the homogeneity of even the most remote locality, making the assumptions underlying the "local community standards" rule untenable.