NY: Ruling Appears To Give Sex Offenders A Pass On Facebook

[wwnytv.com – 6/29/18]

It’s a case out of Essex County called the People v. Ellis.

“Their decision was that Facebook accounts did not have to be registered if you are a sex offender,” said Leanne Moser, Lewis County District Attorney.

New York state law requires sex offenders to register their Internet providers and any Internet identifiers that they use, but the court in Essex County decided Facebook is not either of those.

Right now, courts in the north country have to follow the ruling, unless there is another contrary ruling here or in the state’s highest court.

For that reason, the decision is being followed in Lewis County.

“Reading this decision, I don’t understand how they got to this decision…I think it would be a public concern that you would want a registered sex offender to register a Facebook account or any other social media account because that is how they reach out to possibly attract victims,” said Moser.

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I thought this was already settled case law following the Packingham v. North Carolina case in which the US Supreme Court unanimously determined that prohibiting registrants from using social media is a violation of our 1st Amendment rights:

Although this case differs in that it requires registrants to register their internet identifiers, the Packingham precedent should still be binding because the court has repeatedly ruled that free speech includes the right to anonymous speech (see McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 1995).

Upon further research, there has been debate about this exact matter in the lower courts. Here is a WaPo article discussing an Illinois State Supreme Court ruling against a registrant, shortly before the Packingham decision:

ACSOL article reference: