Pokèmon, Go Get a Permit: Free-Speech Suit Ropes in Reactionary County Ordinance

pokemongo2It’s October 2016, and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin residents are massing on sidewalks, around town landmarks, and in public parks, eyes glued to their smartphones as they chase virtual Pokèmon Go characters.

Meanwhile, in the halls of county government, elected officials mull over the implications of this craze.

Some delight at the game’s ability to bring people together and inspire normally sedentary younger residents to get outside. Others, however, wring their hands over complaints of traffic disruptions and unruly teenagers and scheme over how to quell game-creature hunting, or at least how to make money off of it for the county.

One supervisor, deciding that something needs to be done, devises an ordinance. Rather than target the bad behavior of individuals playing the games, the measure imposes a permitting process and fees on augmented-reality-app developers. After several months of debate, the Board of Supervisors passes Resolution 16-637 by a 13-4 vote on February 2, 2017. Continue reading