ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 1546 would create a new assault offense under Title 18 to prohibit a person from intentionally or knowingly communicating, or posting on social media, the "restricted personal information" of a public official or a family or household member of a public official with: (1) reckless disregard that the restricted personal information will be used to threaten, intimidate or facilitate the commission of a crime against the public official or their family or household member; or (2) the intent that the restricted information will be used to threaten, intimidate or facilitate the commission of a crime against the public official or their family or household member.
Publicly posting “restricted information” would be graded as a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. If, as a result of posting such information, someone else inflicted bodily injury on a public official or their family or household member, the person posting the information would be charged with a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
HB 1546 proposes a dangerous, and almost certainly unconstitutional, expansion of protections that apply to a broad list of 39 public officials, most of whom are not public safety officials. The bill also protects their family and household members, which includes ex-spouses and former sexual or intimate partners. The bill prohibits publicly posting, or communicating in any way, "restricted personal information" about an official or a family/household member. Restricted information can include the most basic of information, including the name or image of the public official. Finally, in order to be criminally charged, HB 1546 does not require that a person directly threaten or cause harm to an official. Instead, HB 1546 would hold people criminally liable for perceived future harm committed by someone else.
Governor Wolf signed HB 1546 into law on November 17, 2022 as Act 165 of 2022.