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California

‘Post-Snowden Era’ Audit of CA Sex-Offender Monitoring

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The NSA’s controversial domestic surveillance program factored into a 9th Circuit hearing Wednesday on California’s monitoring of sex offenders.
Proposition 35, passed by voters last year, mostly aims to punish human traffickers, but also mandates that sex offenders give police a complete list of their usernames, screen names, email addresses and Internet service providers within 24 hours of setting up a new account or screen name. Failure to do so carries up to three years in prison. Full Article

Related: Release Net identities of sex offenders, state urges

The state asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to allow enforcement of a voter-approved law requiring 73,000 registered sex offenders in California to disclose their Internet identities to police.

The law was part of Proposition 35, approved by an 81 percent majority in November. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco blocked the Internet disclosure requirement from taking effect, saying it was not narrowly targeted at preventing sex crimes and would discourage offenders from exercising their free speech right to post anonymous comments online. Full Article

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  1. Anonymous Nobody

    I note, while this Prop. 35 bit would be actual monitoring, until now 290 has never suggested that registrants are to be monitored or surveilled. That surveillance term came up in a court ruling years ago, and has been quoted and regurgitated without any thought or consideration — or challenge –ever since. In fact, 290 does NOT provide for surveillance. It merely provides for identifying registrants and knowing where to find them IF they are suspected in a crime.

    It is just as unconstitutional for the police to surveil a registrant without any probable cause or any crime as it is to surveil anyone else. 290 has never spoken of surveillance.

    This is a point that should be pushed and pushed hard. This idea that registrants are open to surveillance is completely false — until this Prop 35 statute now calls for it. This idea in Prop 35 that a registrant can be subjected to this surveillance is just as unconstitutional as applied to a registrant as it is for anyone else. It also is a grave danger to everyone, as this is how such widespread surveillance (and spying) of an entire citizenry gets started. And I am disappointed not to hear this argument added to any others against Prop 35.

    • http404

      You might note even though the attorneys may have failed to point out that distinction, the judge certainly did bring it to light… when referencing the NSA’s monitoring.

    • td777

      How do we know monitoring our internet use now might not evolve into cameras being required in our homes in the future? This MUST be stopped here!

  2. anonymous

    I would like to make two comments regarding statements made by the State attorneys.

    1. They described in detail how the identification and apprehension of a suspect would be aided in having this list of online identifiers – shaving valuable **hours** off that process.

    To that I say exactly the opposite may be true. There are many sites where you can comment as a guest or anonymous (like this one – please note my screen name, dozens of others must have used that on this site). While usernames on many sites may be unique to that site, the certainly are not across the internet. So what is someone to stop from using a name they see on one site on another? Not only is any of this not useful, it also could muddle an investigation.

    2. This requirement is not an unreasonable burden on someone already required to register? But it most certainly is. Name one action in civil life where you have 24 hours to take action with a government authority. Under the threat of prosecution and incarceration. Buying a car. Filing your taxes. Paying for your speeding ticket.

    Now I have heard a judge say to a defendant at sentencing “after leaving here you are to check in directly with the probation department. Do not take a nap. Do not go to Taco Bell. If you do you will go to jail”. Not a problem. Repeat, this is at sentencing to probation. In the middle of the, yes, punishment phase.

    Again, name one instance where an action as innocent as making a comment on this site under the name “Johnny Appleseed” and not running over to the PD within 24 hours lands you in prison for up to 3 years. Not unreasonable! What planet do these people live on?

    • http404

      Here’s the bottom line. Anonymity is anonymity. If it is something protected under the First Amendment for lawful speech and expression, then that protection is unconstitutionally revoked the moment someone must disclose that information to another, because, whether it is monitored, investigated or just simply stored in some supercomputer somewhere in North Dakota, it is no longer “anonymity.”

      • Joe

        Totally agree. However – the First Amendment does not protect anonymous speech. Does it?

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

        • mh

          Interestingly, the Federalist Papers, which had some influence on the Constitution, were written anonymously by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Initially, they opposed the Bill of Rights, fearing that they would be interpreted as exhaustive and exclusive.

          Another one of our great American heroes, Benjamin Franklin, also wrote anonymous letters for newspaper publication under the pseudonym, “Silence Dogood”. I think that, to say that anonymity is not protected by the Constitution probably defies the spirit of the Constitution. I have a feeling that Justices Breyer and Kennedy would probably draw from such influences and draw the same conclusion. Roberts and Scalia? Probably not so much, they often tend to be more “pro-Law Enforcement”.

          Personally, I would like to see this reach SCOTUS. Of course, I am terrified that it may backfire on us. But I have confidence in Justice Kennedy that he will usually vote in favor of preserving civil liberties, and I think the more liberal Justices would sway that way anyway. I would hope. I don’t know…I hope we can bring about change some day.

          Let us not forget that immigrants are becoming the newest scapegoat in this country. It probably won’t be long before the government declares “War On Immigration”. We are not the only oppressed people in this society.

        • http404

          We may not be the “only” oppressed people in this society, but we are a class of which it is almost universally accepted and welcomed among society to oppress.

        • mh

          I agree. I was only musing over how pathetic our society is. We live with a scapegoat mentality day in and day out. The world is screwed up and we need somebody to blame. We can’t just accept that our “morally depraved” culture is not the fault of anyone or any class of people in particular.

          They used to blame “queers”, “drug addicts”, and “hippies”, but now that homosexuality and marijuana are becoming acceptable norms of society, they’re running out of somebody to blame. And of course, the liberal-minded folk blame us too because they don’t understand that two-thirds of us ended up on the registry for some stupid technicality. Or that some of us may have just screwed up but cleaned up our lives and turned out as positive, productive members of society. Its the curse of the “sex offender” label. That term sounds so undeniably despicable. Lets be honest – I shudder when I hear it and so does everyone else on this board. Imagine how people feel who have never walked in our shoes. By being branded that way, our cause is almost a non starter.

          There are people in the legislature who care and empathize, just not enough of them.

    • td777

      Your first point is an excellent one. I use td777 here, but nowhere else. I just did a Google search for td777 and sure enough, I found 15,700 results! If they want this from me, how do I know one of those other 15,000 won’t be attributed to me?

      To your second point, perhaps having to supply all our online identities, especially for me since I am in ecommerce with dozens and dozens of “online identifiers,” often adding as many as 2-5 per week(I added 6 just yesterday when I registered six new domains for ecommerce use!), could be a way we prove this burden to be punitive.

      • Tired of hiding

        Using BING I got back 491,000 RESULTS! It would seem a good idea for everyone to do a search of their screen names “identifiers” and to make sure that there are 1000’s of them on various sites. If there are not, change to one that has 1000’s of results. But would that work? Short answer is NO.

        It will not work because they will match it with your unique IP address (they also are asking for your ISP as part of the law).

        Now with those 2 pieces of info it doesn’t matter if there are 15,000 instances of your username and 14,999 are not actually you. A computer can tell exactly which ones are you because they will have those 2 pieces of info and they are just like a finger print and will immediately indicate it was you who made the posting.

        • anonymous

          @Tired – Your point is not really well thought out…. you must provide all your identities and YOUR ISP. PC 290.014 reads “or changes his or her account with an Internet service provider”. That can only refer to your personal ISP at your residence (which, of course, you must disclose)- the one where your name is on the account. (Name not on the account / in your spouse’s name? Then what?)

          But what about all the other times you use on the internets a screen name that was provided to LE? At your place of employment? At Starbucks? The Library? Traveling? On a plane 10,000 feet over the Atlantic (what will they think of next?) No more matching of name and ISP and back to half a million options.

          And does that mean your cell phone provider? Not technically an Internet Service Provider. Or is it?

          This is so half baked it is not even funny. All the while risking people spending years in prison. Aside from the fact that it is a gross violation of the First Amendment, to claim that this law will result in any time savings in apprehending a suspect and preventing a possible crime is ludicrous.

          It is akin to saying that sexual abuse will be reduced because LE knows where someone sleeps at night and receives their junk mail. Now they would never make such an outlandish claim, would they… wait, wait…

        • anonymous

          Lets look some more at the language of PC 290.014(b), the section that was added by Proposition 35.

          If any person who is required to register pursuant to the Act adds or changes his or her account with an Internet service provider or adds or changes an Internet identifier, the person shall send written notice of the addition or change to the law enforcement agency or agencies with which he or she is currently registered within 24 hours. The law enforcement agency or agencies shall make this information available to the Department of Justice. Each person to whom this subdivision applies at the time this subdivision becomes effective shall immediately provide the information required by this subdivision.

          Today’s topic is timing.

          “send written notice within 24 hours”. How do you send it? Is there a form? Does it have to be registered mail? Certified? What determines the 24-hour period? Receipt at the PD? The USPS date stamp? What if you sit up late at night and create a new identifier at 4 in the morning? Do you have until 4 am the next day to get it in the mail? Or is it the date stamp? What if you miss the mailman that very day? What if it is Saturday evening? Where will you find a mail pickup between then and Sunday evening?

          What is to stop your neighbor (who hates you for obvious reasons) to mail in a piece of paper with your full name, dob, address and a bogus screen name to get you into trouble? Now where oh where might he (the neighbor) be able to find all that information about you? hmmmmm

          “Each person to whom this subdivision applies at the time this subdivision becomes effective shall immediately provide the information required by this subdivision.” Lets say the injunction is withdrawn. The following nano-second 100,000 residents in the State of California have just committed a crime! IMMEDIATELY. Not within 5 business days. Not 24 hours. Immediately – without lapse of time (per the dictionary). Good luck with that.

        • mh

          You can see how effective these preventative measures are. After all, without the Wetterling Act, SORNA, Megan’s Law, Jessica’s Law, Adam’s Law and tough registry requirements, we never would have brought Phil Garrido, Jerry Sandusky or Ariel Castro to justice. Er…wait a minute? Exactly how did all these laws prevent those crimes? Oh yeah! THEY DIDN’T.

          So while the authorities were inundated with annual updates, parole violations, and compliance checks, three young women in Cleveland, Ohio were being held captive as sex slaves for over 10 years! What lessons do we learn from this? Pass more laws against people who committed past crimes that weren’t nearly as serious, scrutinize their internet activity and take away their passports and government assistance.

  3. Anonymous

    In Del Norte County, California, our Sheriffs’ office refused to let anyone register except between a 2 hour window only on Thursdays.

    It would be impossible to comply with any law that says “Must provide this information within 24 hours”.

    • Tired of hiding

      No you are going and getting all logical on the whole process. We can not tolerate that or the absurdity of the entire thing will be glaringly obvious to even those with minimal intelligence (politicians)…

      Please do not put that additional burden of actually having to think on them! That is certainly unreasonable and punishment indeed!

  4. watching

    I like this part
    “these are folks that are going to have to report all of their monikers that are used on the Internet and have no idea whether the police are regularly trolling to monitor everything that they say on the Internet.”

    “all of their monikers” I think this judge “get it” but we will see

  5. Brubaker

    The federal judge ruling got it right ….the section of prop 35
    does not have evidence to overturn ruling……..also 35 was fronted to voters has more punishment to sex trafficking ….
    no one….no one on listing committed a sex trafficking crime
    to further punishment ……..also as free Americans ….no other free Americans are forced to give private communication info…….the information coerced under threat of jail/prison must go through Constitutional Rights of search warrant if crime involved ……..also free speech will
    be criminal …..the federal judge ruling got it right.

  6. Painted Bird

    The unsaid assumption in proposition 35 is that all registrants are sex traffickers and that they can’t wait to go online to hook children into acts of sex. I think if you ask anyone who voted for this proposition, that is what they believe. The State has not said one thing to dispell this myth. It is mass deception on a scale not seen since the McCarthy era.

    • td777

      The state also has done very little to dispell the myth that the recividism rate is around 60-70% as claimed during the 2006 election when Jessica’s Law was on the ballot. The DOJ admitted the 1.3 real recividism rate on their site in what was soon a hard to find posting.

      I’d like to know how we could hold the State of California responsible to let every voter know the real recividism rate and how it compares to other crimes as well as the fact that false information was reported by the State previously.

  7. td777

    One of the worst lines in this is “Use of the Internet by sex offenders to commit crimes rose between 2000 and 2006, the lawyer added.” Did they bother to think about the fact that the number of laws regarding internet use quadrupled and then some during that period?

    The best line…Judge Schroeder’s response after Harrison said “The fact that a registered sex offender didn’t use the Internet to commit his first crime or facilitate it doesn’t mean that he might not use the Internet in the future.” Her response was “That’s true of all of us – that just because we haven’t been sex criminals in the past, that we might not be in the future.” I can only hope and pray more people would start using the level of reason and logic and intelligence that Judge Schroeder showed here!

    • mh

      I think this panel see’s through the state’s argument and is probably more interested in protecting civil liberties. Justice is a game and I’m sure these judges know that. I think they would have to go through life with blinders on to vote in favor of a measure like Prop 35 and not see the ramifications it will have for the entire citizenry in the following years. After all, Judge Schroeder’s response pretty much summed up the crux of the issue, so why not force everyone to give up their online identifiers since everyone who is not now a “sex offender”, has the potential to become a “sex offender” in the future.

  8. Painted Bird

    Convicted once by evidence specific to my individual case. Due process. Convicted over and over again by statistics, which don’t describe my individual case. Tyranny.

  9. Painted Bird

    So, they are getting these identifiers already? Isn’t this in violation of the injunction? How are they getting these? Taking advantage of registrants who don’t know of an injunction, who don’t have a computer or are not allowed to use one? The internet is the only way I found out about it. Are they filtering out meta data? If you or I willfully violated a court order, you or I would be facing prison time. Maybe I am missing something? I think I will change my moniker to “Bewildered”, because that is the way I feel most of the time.

  10. Grandfathered In

    A famous founding father once said. “Government at its best is a troublesome servant and at its worst a fearsome master.” So tell me is it really at its best these days?Our government has become the fearsome master the founding fathers warned of. Did we allow this to happen? Yes. Is it too late to turn the tide? Maybe. One thing is for certain; your rights are being gobbled up faster than you know. Things you don’t even know are your rights are being taken away right in front of your eyes. Case in point: I am now required to buy health insurance whether I want it or not. My choice to trust in God and be healthy is being erroded. I choose to pay the Health Tax even though the Media calls it a fine I must face. The Supreme Court ruled it a “Tax” in order to support the individual mandate. After all congress has the power to levy taxes. So much for no new taxes. If the Media calls it a fine, even though it was ruled a tax, I guess now I’m guilty of the crime of being healthy. So who wins the most in The Affordable Care Act? The big insurance companies of course. And who looses? We loose our rights.
    Thank You for your time.

    • Brubaker

      @grandpiano oh it doesn’t matter what you call yourself…
      health insurance is of inclusion…….forcing people under threat of jail/prison to register as exoffender so you are
      restricted from fundamental rights is of exclusion….there’s a
      difference ….You’re welcome.

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