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ACSOLCaliforniaGeneral News

Suit Contests Limits on Online Activities of Sex Offenders

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.

Read more here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/us/lawsuit-filed-to-contest-california-sex-offender-law.html?_r=0

Join the discussion

  1. Concerned

    I’m really concerned about this. What I did was a mistake that happened when I was 13 years old, stemming from sexual abuse in my own past, and now I have to register (in CA) for the remainder of my life. The original offense occurred 16 years ago, so while I am still fairly young, I have a lot to lose if this goes through. I can’t remember every user name I’ve ever used! How is this not an invasion of privacy? What “identifiers” must I report?

    Online bank usernames? They are used for chatting with bank reps when I have questions regarding my account.
    Playstation Network? I send messages to my online friends and play video games together. Also, my credit card info is attached to this as well.
    My ebay/paypal account? Why would they need this? So they can have more of my credit card info? Track my purchases maybe?

    This also concerns my spouse. The ISP is in her name, not mine. How does that affect me? Will I have to report HER ISP since I use it as well? How is that not an invasion of HER privacy? Are they going to monitor her internet activity as well since I am associated with it? How is that not a violation of her civil rights and her right to privacy?

    This law is seriously over broad and I do hope this judge sees the senselessness behind it and tosses it out. It effects more than just sex offenders.

    Also, on a side note, statistically speaking, aren’t somewhere near 90% of sex offenders non-violent and their crimes have absolutely nothing to do with the internet? Additionally, from a common sense standpoint, wouldn’t a violent predatory sex offender not really care about reporting internet identities if he/she were planning to re-offend? And aren’t most new sex offenses committed by people who are NOT registered?

    I’m sorry, but I believe that law enforcement doesn’t have the means or the funding to truly carry something like this out. If I can’t remember every post or username I’ve ever used how can they expect anyone else to? What about pseudonyms that people use that someone else could also use? Obviously “Concerned” is not my real name, but what if some dangerous person also uses it? I’ve reported that I’ve used it so it must be me, right? It’s completely ridiculous and needs to go.

    I do agree that child abuse is terrible and needs to be stopped, but this is too broad. If they want to implement internet monitoring they need to take the time to categorize offenders by the danger the pose to society and the chances of re-offending. I agree that there are very dangerous individuals out there that need to be monitored, but they are NOT the majority of “sex offenders”.

    • Tired of hiding

      Agree with everything you say. Unfortunately common sense, logic, and
      reason are ignored and not taken into consideration. Sex offenders are the new
      scapegoats because they are an easy target to keep the public paranoid
      and in constant fear. This is about control (both of the RSO and the general
      population as a whole).

      Politicians who use this tactic can "appear" to be actually doing something
      productive by "saving" children from this constant threat of the RSO hiding in
      the darkness ready to snatch their innocent children or lure them into a chat
      room to do nasty things…come on!

      Statistics proving otherwise…forget them. Reality…who needs it…it just
      gets in the way!

  2. Eric Knight

    Has the case been argued yet? November 20 was the last day of the current stay, and unless there was a court decision or an additional stay, RSO’s MUST disclose all their identifiers within 24 hours. (Yes, I know this is not technically enforceable, but then again, I never have depended upon the rationality of law enforcement with regard to giving any slack to RSO’s if they can latch on a technicality).

  3. none

    Facebook say that they can delate people who are on Megan law website but however it is clear that they aren’t suppose to do this.

    Californa Penal code 290.46

    Except as authorized under paragraph (1) or any other
    provision of law, use of any information that is disclosed pursuant
    to this section for purposes relating to any of the following is
    prohibited:
    (A) Health insurance.
    (B) Insurance.
    (C) Loans.
    (D) Credit.
    (E) Employment.
    (F) Education, scholarships, or fellowships.
    (G) Housing or accommodations .
    (H) Benefits, privileges, or services provided by any business
    establishment.

    What part of “Benefits, privileges, or services provided by any business
    establishment.”
    don’t they understand

    • http404

      That is one of my biggest concerns, that the information will be made available to the public and service providers alike, and service providers of social networking and other commenting software would likely do a mass purge of accounts, thereby suppressing free speech enjoyed by others.

    • Joe

      Very good point…. the question that really begs to be asked is – if it is ILLEGAL (the Penal Code says so) for business establishments to withhold benefits, privileges, or services based on this information – how can it be legal for governments (municipal, state, federal) to do this? Deny access to tax payer funded recreation areas, restrict place of living, declare ineligibility for subsidized housing, etc etc? All using the information that business establishments are ‘prohibited from using’.

      Really, what private businesses do pales in comparison with what the government gets to do – under threat of criminal prosecution and incarceration.

      Why does the government get to violate the very laws it institutes – without repercussion?

  4. bill

    Does anyone know the best way to find out if and when the lawsuit is lost and Prop 35 goes into affect? will I be in trouble if I don’t know the law has gone into affect and they are expecting me to turn in all my internet identifiers within 24 hours? Do you think the Department of Justice intends to notify registrants and give them a reasonable method with which to provide the required information?

    Any insight? – Thanks.

    • Tired of hiding

      I would watch this site for updates on this.

      I do not intend personally to contact the police to give them any information. I will do so when contacted and only when contacted. Even then I will give only what would be required to the letter of the law. I am not on probation of any sort and I will not go out of my way to give them on more thought in my head than is legally required.

      Don’t sweat it and Happy New Year!

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