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National

IA: Iowa Supreme Court rules requiring sex offenders to report social media presence is not a First Amendment violation

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that requiring sex offenders to disclose their social media identities and other digital information does not violate their free speech rights.

Five of the seven justices agreed that the requirement, part of the state’s sex offender registry, was put in place a decade ago to protect children and victims from possible abuse but was not a “proxy for content regulations.” Justice Thomas Waterman’s opinion emphasized that sex offenders aren’t required to disclose their passwords and aren’t prevented from participating in social media. Full Article

Opinion

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  1. AO

    The whole reasoning of safety here is bad since it relies on just the persons name and not a truly unique identifier like a social security number. An RC named John Smith has tens of thousands of doppelgangers. And if RC John Smith doesn’t choose on include his picture and city location, then what use is it to a potential victim to know that John Smith is an RC? Does the potential victim now avoid 100% of people with the same name? I use Facebook but don’t have a single picture of myself or my family on it and didn’t fill out a lick of information on my location, job, or anything else. There’s no way for the general public to identify me against the registry in order to be “safe” from me. The logic here is extremely poor.

  2. Minor American

    This is absurd to simple neglect the rights of once prosecuted to ever live a normal and uninfrenged life because the gov. Claims an all time stake in internet or any territory the deem necessary to so called protect public…so at what point is it considered to be stupid lines drawn and no way for ex offenders to be free of troubles, barriers, bias, losses in social and all areas of life
    Solely on the concept it’s best for the rest of the world
    So..it does not matter that it hurts, damages, blocks, rejects, and makes 2nd class citzens maybe 3rd .. because they think that the Constitution can be modified to suit there ideas and fears and promote only there life while making others a living hell !!!

  3. Timothy

    As if gov agents do not have software to overcome password barriers!
    Just more opinion from ignorant non tech savvy peoples.

  4. AJ

    From the Opinion (and lower Court):
    *****
    With the internet having so affected our daily lives, the Court agrees with Plaintiff’s assertion that providing
    information regarding a person’s internet identifier is no different than providing an address or telephone number.
    *****
    Why on *earth* would the Plaintiff (the RC) make such a horrible claim!?!? “Your Honor, Internet info holds no special status such as speaking in the modern-day public square. Indeed, it’s no different than any other basic personal fact swirling out there on forms and in millions of discarded phone books.” Were I the State, I would have readily agreed with the RC’s claim and assert the addition of Internet info is de minimus.
    =====

    Reading the case-law references in the Opinion, it sure sounds like IA has built up some serious stare decisis in favor of the State: “If the law is reasonably open to two constructions, one that renders it
    unconstitutional and one that does not, the court must adopt the interpretation that upholds the law’s
    constitutionality.” Wow. Is this not the textbook definition of vagueness?

    That all said, IA’s law may indeed satisfy intermediate scrutiny. There are protections against willy-nilly release of the info to the public and to non-LEO entities; one can appear, write/email, or call with the info; the person has 5 days to do so. These items all distinguish it from Doe v. Harris (CA), Doe v. Marshall (AL), and Does v. Snyder (MI/6th). IMO, the chilling-effect argument is pretty watered down by these different rules. Were it challenged to SCOTUS, I can easily see denial of cert…unless SCOTUS is eager to fix, “frightening and high,” which I don’t think it is. I’ll happily be wrong.

    • New Person

      There is a possibility of this rising to SCOTUS level.

      Given that sex offenders are already looked down upon, should a sex offender voice any opinion on social media, then that sex offender will be treated like a sex offender than an individual with concerns. The courts are rendering the value of an individual’s thoughts worth less than the individual’s peers once that thought is originated from a sex offender. Not only is it chilling a voice, but it has potentiality of harassing the individual once the individual is identified on social media.

      A simply google query of “What is criminal punishment” and one of the results is “What are 4 types of punishment?”
      1. Retribution
      2. Deterrence
      3. Rehabilitation
      4. Societal Protection

      Although the Courts often use the 7-factors of MM to determine if a levy is a punishment or not – these four types makes more sense as well as makes a great delineation. For starters, Societal Protection often means incarceration, but that could now include the sex registry scheme – it’s how lawyers and judges circumvent involuntary servitude is prohibited unless to punish a crime. The registry, itself, poses as a deterrence compared to how it is now implemented. Long before, only local PD could see that information, but nowadays anyone in the whole wide world can see this information on the web, background checks, as well as identifying forms for travelling such as a passport. The inclusion of an individual’s social media presence reeks of retribution and deterrence as the expansion of surveillance as the local PD can always track a person’s social media account at any hour of the day or night.

      The PD and judges imply it is simply information being disseminated, but it is crime prevention tool that is the underlying purpose as they state it is for public safety. This prevention is punishment because it is used as a deterrent, societal protection, rehabilitation test of recidivism, and all that is done based upon retribution because no other set of criminals share the exact same levying of exploitation and involuntary forfeiture of privacy mandated under penalty of law.

      .
      =======
      .
      As noted above, another aspect is that social media can behave like a tracking device. Thus, one can make an allusion that it is akin to a GPS tracking unit and an individual is under surveillance 24 hours of the day.

      • Will Allen

        Frankly, I think it is beyond outrageous that any person who would dare call him/herself an American even begins to think that this “Internet identifier” BS is acceptable in any way. America has ALWAYS struggled to be a decent, moral country and to me, this is just more of that. Our country has never been free and it is currently devolving, every second of the day. Just take a look at our “leader”.

        Additionally, anyone who dreams that it is worthwhile to get “identifiers” from a million people in the ridiculous, totally-will-never-happen chance that one of them might be dumb enough to actually use such an identifier to do anything nefarious, is a complete moron and has no useful opinion. 99.99999999999% of the identifiers given to the Law Enforcement Criminals would only be used for the same thing that everyone else in the country does. It’s just stupid. So stupid that it hurts people who actually have brains.

        Therefore, I have to conclude that the U.S. and world in general would be much better off if the “people” who continually support Registering “identifiers” and other idiotic, useless things, were dead. That would be a great improvement for humanity. At a minimal case, they need to get the hell out of the U.S. so we might have a chance to make it a decent country for once. F this “Make America Great Again” nonsense. Those people are big government loving control freaks. Can’t get enough big government. Let’s “Make American Decent for Once”.

        Lastly, even though the article and you said it, this Supreme Court ruling was not about “$EX offenders”. It was about people who are listed on the $EX Offender Registries. Had nothing to do with “$EX offenders”.

        And no one really seems to care much about the issue regardless. There are practically no comments at the article itself. Maybe people don’t read desmoinesregister.com.

        • Les Mis Life

          Thank you, Iowa, for banishing me 15 years ago when you (retroactively) upheld the 2,000′ law! The madness runs stronger in some states, and to think what life would be year after year makes me happy to flee that sinking ship.

          I hope that if it gets reviewed by SCOTUS, they take into consideration the amount of sites that require you to create an account/ user name/ etc. and the needless nature of the catch-22 reporting burden attached to felony consequences.

      • C

        Packingham vs. North carolina has already brought this issue before scotus and they ruled it a constitutional violation. Iowa is just forcing this individual to spend more money fighting

        • Timothy Lawver

          I think you need to review NC V. PACKINGHAM. The issue in that court was an NC law outright banning registrants from social media, not the ” reporting” of IDs. The unconditional aspect of reporting is overbroad and feckless. Why because a human can create hundreds of email addresses a day. Same for internet id’s

          The true reason why agents desire this data is the key phrase of search then has a target. By disclosing an email address you give the surveillance saints a keystroke input to conducting a warrantless search. That is a necessary key to both covert tracking AND tracing internet activity. An email once sent provides pathways to follow associated persons computer use. Device IP addresses are attached by default to both.

          Big brother at work people , but what to do about it?

      • AJ

        @New Person:
        “As noted above, another aspect is that social media can behave like a tracking device. Thus, one can make an allusion that it is akin to a GPS tracking unit and an individual is under surveillance 24 hours of the day.”
        —–
        Hardly. One is voluntary, the other mandatory. One is controlled by private entities (you, FB), the other by the Government. Your allusion is illusory.

      • TS

        @New Person

        Is there existing case law that could be referred to that would help on appeal to SCOTUS which would entice them to take it for consideration and also should’ve been in the IASC appeal? I read @AJ’s posting and unless there is something there talking about chilling in the public social media square, I’m not seeing any way it gets approved to be heard by the 9 in black robes.

        Of course, WRT phone books, I can pay for a undisclosed phone number and no listing in the white pages of yore which is very difficult, but not impossible to have today. That does not minimize the fact, the data has to be shared with Roscoe, et al.

  5. TS

    It’s IA, the same state that wanted to pressure a teen girl into treatment for photos she took of herself the DA saw as naughty. Smh…

    • AJ

      @TS:
      “It’s IA, the same state that wanted to pressure a teen girl into treatment for photos she took of herself the DA saw as naughty.”
      —–
      I wonder how many times he had to see them to ensure they were naughty…. “I’ll be reviewing evidence for the next 5 minutes. No calls, please.”

      • TS

        @AJ

        HA! That one line is probably uttered in many DA/LE offices when reviewing similar “evidence” or pushing it (they don’t do that, do they?).

  6. Will Allen

    People don’t really care about this. Only a couple of comments on the article.

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