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IN: Facebook Sex Offenders Ban Ruled Unconstitutional By Indiana Court

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana law that bans registered sex offenders from using Facebook and other social networking sites that can be accessed by children is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago overturned a federal judge’s decision upholding the law, saying the state was justified in trying to protect children but that the “blanket ban” went too far by restricting free speech.

The 2008 law “broadly prohibits substantial protected speech rather than specifically targeting the evil of improper communications to minors,” the judges wrote. Full Article

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Again I am not legal expert.. But this ruling in Indiana seems pretty good, but how does that work courts outside of California? Does the California court recognize it? or they operate in their own world?

I’m not a legal expert either, but this ruling from the 7th Circuit will not immediately apply to the 9th U.S. Circuit, of which California is a part. But it could eventually if the ruling is upheld all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is good news, but not great new, for California. This decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals can be cited in future California cases, but it may or may not be followed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If there are a sufficient number of courts that rule on this issue, it may be possible to successfully request a review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Chances are this will take a few years or more to sort out.

Every time I see a win for our side it gives me hope. I have to wonder though; If Facebook has it in their T.O.S. that registrants are not allowed in their club, does this ruling over-ride their bylaw?

I think it does.. I hate to sound racist with this example, but it is the first thing that comes to mind.. When the president announced that discrimination of race is no longer acceptable.. And that one governor in the South that was preventing the color folk from going to a all white college, well that ended those “White Only” signs.. You can wonder all of LA and not find a sign saying “Whites Only”

Yes…until they are sued.

I think as a private business, Facebook can establish any conditions for use of its site as long as it is not discriminating against a protected class, and even then there could be exceptions. (Disclaimer: not a legal expert).

FYI, here are the FB TOS:

In the past several months, I signed up on Facebook mainly to locate family. I used a different first name for my profile and just yesterday, was blocked from the sight. I am an RSO no longer on probation or parole. There was no restrictions for using social media at my sentencing. I have wiped out any trace of Facebook use from my devices. Am I going to be arrested and charged for my Facebook use or will I be ok because of the current appeal?

Facebook is a privately owned company, but is is so broadly used and integral now to people communicating with each other, it is functionally a common carrier and should be treated as such. Like phone service. No one puts a blanket ban on us us using the phone. Yes, you can and should ban people from making harassing calls to children, but you can’t just ban someone from using a phone because the CEO of ATT doesn’t like them. Illegal as heck, same with the stupid Facebook ban. It doesn’t even make sense. A convicted but former sex offender gets banned? Someone who has maybe never used the service for illegal means? And yet some insurgent in Syria can have a Facebook page. Sorry Facebook you are big enough to be a public service, not one guy operating out of one’s garage. You can’t have it both ways.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x