Espionage Act of 1917

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This act made it a crime, punishable by a $10,000 fine and 20 years in jail, for a person to convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies.

The laws were ruled constitutional in the United States Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).

The law was later extended by the Sedition Act of 1918, which made it illegal even to speak out against the government.

During and after World War I the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act were used in prosecutions that would be considered constitutionally unacceptable in the U.S. even in the political climate after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Center. While much of the laws were repealed in 1921, major portions of the Espionage Act remain part of U.S. law (18 USC 793, 794) and form the legal basis for most information.

The US Congress has enacted other laws to protect specific types of information including:

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