Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 16, 2014

Fed. Dist. Court in CA Grants Injunction Against the Enforcement of a Ban on Computer Gaming and Internet Access Businesses In City

Plaintiff IBiz, LLC’s (“Plaintiff”) made a motion for a preliminary injunction against Defendant City of Hayward (“Defendant” or “City”) against the enforcement of Ordinance No. 13–05. This ordinance would prohibit computer gaming and internet access businesses from receiving: “a permit or any other applicable license or entitlement for use, including but not limited to, the issuance of a business license, business permit, building permit, use permit or zoning text amendment shall be approved or issued for the establishment or operation of Computer Gaming and Internet Access Businesses in the City of Hayward.” This ordinance would ban all computer gaming and internet access businesses in all areas of the City.

Plaintiff argued that the Ordinance imposes an overbroad prohibition on any establishments that provide for cost Internet access via any type of computer or electronic device. Plaintiff contended that such a ban was unconstitutional since providing access to the Internet is an expressive activity related to the provision of communication services and information. The court found that even though Defendant’s interest in the ordinance was substantial, the Ordinance was not narrowly tailored because it would cut off alternative channels of communication for businesses that want to provide computer- or Internet-related services for their customers, and for customers who would otherwise have had access to those services. Since the First Amendment requires that content-neutral time, place, and manner restrictions leave open ample alternative channels of communication, and no such channels were found in this case, the court granted the Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the Ordinance.

IBiz, LLC v. City of Hayward, 962 F. Supp. 2d 1159, 1169 (N.D. Cal. 2013)


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