The ACLU and EFF argue that new law’s requirements violate the First Amendment.
California’s sex offender registry, the nation’s oldest and largest, lists more than 74,000 living Californians convicted of sex crimes since 1947. Like sex offenders elsewhere in the nation, they have been increasingly restricted in recent years as communities have barred them from not only schoolyards and playgrounds but also beaches, libraries, harbors and other public places.
Now, under a ballot initiative that California endorsed on Election Day, sex offenders’ movements will also be monitored in the digital realm. They must inform the authorities of their e-mail addresses, user names, screen names and other Internet handles, as well as report any additions or changes within 24 hours. The information will not be included in the public registry that lists sex offenders’ names, addresses and other details.
The new law immediately brought a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that its requirements violate the First Amendment by infringing on the right to free, anonymous speech on the Internet. A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Internet provisions of the law, which also includes increased prison terms for sex trafficking. The judge is expected to consider a request for a preliminary injunction at a hearing on Tuesday.