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ACLU and EFF Challenge Free Speech Restrictions in California’s Proposition 35

San Francisco – Today the ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a federal class-action lawsuit to block implementation of unconstitutional provisions of Proposition 35 – a ballot measure passed by California voters Tuesday that restricts the legal and constitutionally protected speech of all registered sex offenders in California.

Proposition 35 requires anyone who is a registered sex offender – even people with decades-old, low-level offenses like misdemeanor indecent exposure and people whose offenses were not related to the Internet – to turn over a list of all their Internet identifiers and service providers to law enforcement. While the law is written very unclearly, this likely includes email addresses, usernames and other identifiers used for online political discussion groups, book and restaurant review sites, forums about medical conditions, and newspaper or blog comments. Under the law, more than 73,000 Californians must immediately provide this information to law enforcement, and must report any new account or screen name within 24 hours of setting it up, even if the new screen name is their own real name. Violations can result in years in prison. Full Article

Complaint / pdf

Join the discussion

  1. Janice Bellucci

    California RSOL is proud to be a plaintiff in this important case which challenges the constitutionality of provisions within Proposition 35 which require all registrants to disclose both their online identities and their online activities. The requirements of this proposition impair if not eliminate the ability of registrants to communicate online, including the CA RSOL website. Today’s filing of this lawsuit is a first step in overturning a Draconian law that could directly affect more than 100,000 registrants and indirectly affect millions. Thank you, ACLU and EFF, for leading the charge!

    • Jeff

      Thank You for your effort!!

      No injunction or restraining order? So we have to provide the info today?

    • Nicholas Maietta

      Hello Janice, and thank you and the team of folks working on this. I was very pleased to see this hit the headlines. I am one of those who will be seriously affected by this new law. I just completed 5 years of parole a few months ago and my business is finally picking up a little now. This law has the power to change how i do business and will effectively push me to avoid taking business risks that lead to my being able to pay my rent and my bills. When i am forced to adapt my life around this, i am being punished all over again and this will in fact push me into a state of not being able to pay my bills. Another RSO on the street. Sounds familiar… oh yeah.. that’s right. Jessica’s law forced me into homelessness too. This is no different. Dress up new legislation that re-punishes people for those who’ve paid the price already… then the courts overturn portions of it. Because i was on parole, i was still forced to live far away… so far, i had nowhere to go. GPS monitoring bracelets, residency restrictions.. those were found unconstitutional.

      Today, it’s internet identifiers. The courts will find those unconstitutional also. And when they do, the voters may still not realize they were duped. They are fooled each election season, into passing feel good laws that are not constitionally sound. The tax payers pay for this the hard way. And yet, they keep doing it.

      I call them sheople. There are the percentage out there who saw right through it, probably realizing that it was already against the law to exploit children, etc and this was just another unconstituional feel gool law designed to help get another person elected… as always.

  2. DZ

    Thank you for this effort!

    Since this was filed in court today, will there be a result from the request for an injunction? The ‘immediate’ enforcement of the law would lead me to suspect that a judge might be expected to give an immediate answer on at least the issue of the injunction. the ‘immediate’ clause makes an immediate injunction vital as the lawsuit rightly points out.

    Was one given? Did the judge decline to decide on it at this time?

    Any information on the expected timeline would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

  3. mr b

    I was told that a proposition is not legally allowed to include two entirely different ideas, such as email addresses and sex traffickers.

    Nonetheless, I strongly applaud the organizations for attacking the law. It is totally unreasonable. Individuals use the internet to apply for jobs, buy pizza, make hotel and other arrangements, buy things on Amazon, E-bay, etc. This sounds much like “Big Brother”. What is next? And more importantly, WHO is next. People complain about cookies following them. This is more controlling, more intrusive and more abusive. Perhaps next the requirement is that everyone must report all email and other internet activites to the police. Will we have rewards for turning in neighbors? Will there be a secret police monitoring everyone?

  4. Jeff

    Well I guess I should delete my one Email Address and since this is the only place I ever posted that if I do not post anymore, I will not be breaking the law as 24 hours has not passed and it does not kick in till at least 24 hours.

  5. Bluewall

    I wouldn’t jump the gun yet about reporting your emails.. It’ll be a process.. The redesigning of the database, the paperwork, and figuring how to enforce it.. Its not like a cop can kick down your door without a warrant to go snooping on your computer (not unless your on parole/probation)

  6. td777

    Since the law was so vague, though I know it specifically says we don’t have to disclose those for educational institutes…what if we have a login for work-related use only, and may not actually know the provider used by our place of work?

  7. Tired of hiding

    This should be interesting since email headers can be faked rather easily and therefore, if someone wants to frame and/or annoy a ROS it is quite possible to get someone in trouble very easily!

    This is another example of the techno ignorant politicians making “laws” that will do more harm than good since they are too stupid to understand it.

    98% of the regulations should apply ONLY to those on active probation. Once that is completed there should be a totally different classification. It seems so obvious to anyone with any common sense but then you have to remember that politicians are involved so that rules out any common sense or reason being used.

  8. James

    I called my local 290 unit in San Jose again today and they still have not gotten any direction as to what they are supposed to do. They are in the process of figuring all of this out and I was told by two different officers today to call them back mid next week. I’m fortunate that the officers here have been helpful and available whenever I’ve had a question for them. Unfortunately that’s not the case in every jurisdiction.

    Keep up the fight.

  9. Janice Bellucci

    The comments above reflect the true uncertainty of Prop. 35 due to its vagueness. How can anyone comply with its requirements when the requirements are not certain? This is one of the arguments made in today’s lawsuit. A temporary restraining order (TRO) has been requested and an answer is expected “soon” perhaps as early as tomorrow (Thursday, November 8). If the TRO is granted, we will announce it on this website so please stay tuned!

    • J

      Thank you so much for the update, Janice.
      If the answer to the injunction is expected tomorrow does that mean that we should go ahead and submit our identifiers/ip providers to the PD today since that answer will come after the stipulated 24 hour period?

  10. RR

    Looks like a judge granted the TRO!!!!!

    “A judge granted the groups’ request for a temporary retraining order late Wednesday, halting the implementation of the internet reporting requirements until the case is resolved.”

    Check this link: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c19fecd4-28fd-11e2-9591-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2BazjVq9U

    Janice, can we get confirmation on this from you? GREAT JOB!!!!!

  11. JD

    I contacted the local PD today and she never mentioned a TRO in effect rather I was asked to give her my Bank log in user name as well as my ebay account user name and my paypal account user name and was told that any family members account I had access to would also have to be given to them! Ha not just violate my rights but my families rights as well and really I seriously doubt anyone could sell children on ebay. The goverment needs to redirect their manipulating ways and soon all these blind people voting will see how these laws will turn to begin to take away their rights as well and we will be living in a dictatorship country! How come shoplifters arent banned from ever entering a store, or anyone convicted of a DUI not banned from any alcohol serving establishment? How about cigarrette smoking. Our children have to breathe this everyday yet the legal age to buy cigarrettes is 18! I think we should push for banning cigarrette smoking in public and people with a child under the age of 18 should not be allowed to smoke in their home! How about we push back some of those issues and see how quick the goverment will step in to say well that just wouldnt be right! I see no difference its protecting our children, right?

    • DZ

      They asked for that? Ebay & Paypal? I’d say that’s grounds for a lawsuit.
      The stated intent of the (misguided) law is about communication: chat, email & social media. What you purchase and your financial accounts are not part of what the law itemizes. That is obscene. Paypal is effectively the same as a bank. It is not a chat or forum. What you buy or sell on ebay is not a forum and has no potential for sexual abuse, neither does your bank account. I don’t think the police for your area understand the law.

  12. JD

    She took all that info and said it was required and they even want access to my cell phone provider because I have a data plan.I explained to her that I dont do any of the facebook, twitter, chat room stuff and she said they want anything I use to sign in to any account. Even my adobe ID which is a design software company. Unfortunately I do not have the money to hire a attorney. We also have signs posted as you enter our city saying “sex offenders beware we are watching you”. To me this is targeting and done by the recreational center which at one point I am told they offered prizes to encourage people to go on the megans law website.

    • DZ

      JD that sounds absolutely insane.
      What city is this, if you don’t mind me asking?

      Some things to consider:

      1. They are demanding you give them information that the law does not permit them to ask for. the law says nothing about internet accounts that are not about communication: your financial accounts and software licences are not in play.

      2. They are demanding you give them information when there is a TRO placed on the law, so they have no legal right to ask for any of it.

      3. Since they insisted you give them this information, presumably under threat of (unlawful) arrest, when they had no legal basis for it, you have been abused by the police.

      I can understand not wanting to draw attention to yourself, afraid of media splashes and such, but this is how they get away with such abuse. Perhaps the people who run this site, or others can recommend a lawyer who will take your case pro-bono or on consignment. I would think you have the right to sue for damages, since this was essentially extortion, or at least abuse of power and inflicting great emotional damage as well as potential physical and financial damage. You could end up wining a significant sum of money. If such law enforcement agencies open up their cities to damaging law suits, it will keep them on their toes and make them think twice before enacting bad laws or enforcing laws beyond their right. Only when they face criminal charges themselves, or suffer career setbacks from causing their PD & city large sums of money will they take it seriously.

      Right now they believe they can abuse any registrant because registrants are too afraid to defend themselves.

      Unless you are on parole or probation, it should be an easy case- find a lawyer who wouldn’t mind making some money from your winnings and get some of your rights back.

      Good luck!

      • Tired of hiding

        Exactly! There is power in numbers and power in knowledge! We all need to be educated on the letter of the law so we are not victimized any further than is legally permitted already!

        There are some decent people in law enforcement, however, there are those who are on a vendetta for many reasons and actually derive pleasure from being abusive.

        This has become a war and we have to actively fight back! If not, we will continue to be abused and used as a scapegoat by politicians who have a personal agenda of self interest. It is about time we stand together to stop the madness. If we don’t do it for ourselves no one else will.

        Get educated and stand up for yourself!

    • Michael

      JD, this certainly seems to me like your local police department is overstepping its bounds. If they insist that you bring them more information I’d bring them a copy of the TRO instead. Also, and I’m not a lawyer so I’m not suggesting that you do this, but if I were in your shoes I would ask them to return all documents you have provided to them on this issue, and if they refuse perhaps some kind of legal action could be threatened.

    • Tired of hiding

      Unless you are on active probation (and even if you are with the TRO) they are abusing you. DO NOT ALLOW IT! They will go as far as they can (and you let them). Remember that they are not your friend…they will gather as much info as you give them use against you. In your case, I would recommend going to register with an attorney (which is legally your right to do) to assure that they stop overstepping their legal authority!

      You said that you don’t have the money but I am sure that someone on this site can put you in contact with someone in your area who is willing to assist you. Please get the help that you need and deserve! They can trample on our rights but we still have SOME rights in this country!

  13. JD

    Hemet and San Jacinto are where the signs are and home of Valley Wide the recreation center that has the signs in place. I dont mind coming forth im not afraid of retaliation. I am on a mission to get our rights restored and if a lawyer wants to represent me all I need is his/her contact info and I will definately contact them. I have spoken to Janice once but she was occupied with the halloween case in simi valley so wasnt able to help me at that time.

    • Janice Bellucci

      Please know that California RSOL and I are doing all that we can at this time to stop the pendulum from swinging in the wrong direction. It’s been moving that way for many years and it will take time to stop it, then send it back in the opposite direction. We need to move slowly at first so that we can succeed at what we’re doing. Two TRO’s in two weeks is a good start! If you want us to move more quickly, then please Show Up, Stand Up and Speak Up when you are ready. In the mean time, you can make a donation to this great cause by clicking on the Donate button or mailing a check. Every little bit helps.

  14. Tired of hiding

    Sadly it seems that with every election new restrictions are being added to the already huge number of regulations RSO must comply to. Even though I was deceived and agreed to conditions 15 years ago that I would certainly NOT have agreed to in the present form. This is totally unfair and if the majority of people were affected you can be sure that these laws would not keep being passed and more restrictive each year.

    Sex offenders are the new minority group that it is perfectly legal to bash and abuse. Does it matter that perfectly innocent people are put on a public list that gives any nut job full access their personal information to make them an easy target for murder as has happened and will certainly happen again! In a civilized society this would be seen as madness!

    Tells you a lot about the sorry state of America. Pathetic

  15. http404

    ‘Tired of Hiding,’ as to the first part of your comment, my understanding is there is a case in federal court that is taking a look at that issue of changing the rules when there is a plea bargain. The federal court has formally asked the state supreme court to answer a very specific question and their decision will depend on what the answer is. The question is whether contracts are binding based on laws at that time or if they can be subject to updates in law. The state court has ruled both ways in different cases so because of the ambiguity, the federal court wants them to give a clear answer. It’s been about a year and a half and they haven’t provided them with that answer yet. I don’t know at what point they would proceed if they don’t get an answer. The case is DOE v. HARRIS.

  16. Janice Bellucci

    California DOJ has posted the message below on the home page of the Megan’s Law website. We are printing it here because in case you have not yet read it. You can use this language if/when anyone requests your online information.

    ATTENTION: November 9, 2012

    Federal Court orders temporary stay of law enforcement collection of registered sex offenders e-mail(s), screen name(s), and internet service provider(s) pursuant to Proposition 35, the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) Act. Until further notice, the DOJ and local law enforcement will not require registrants to submit this specific information.

  17. Jeff

    It appears to me from reading the posts here that there is a widespread abuse of power amongst law enforcement agencies trying to gather this information. To have them ask for your password is definitely wrong. It would allow them to use your email to do whatever they wanted. Also what about this 2 hours of training they are supposed to go through. It seems to me that no amount of training could teach some of these power hungry idiots what they are supposed to be doing. If it is true that they actually asked you guys for your passwords and banking info they have themselves committed a criminal act and should be charged.

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