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NY: Social media accounts raise complexities for sex offender registry

The law that went on the books 24 years ago has had updates and spawned a number of requirements for sex offenders.

One of them is that they must disclose to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services the “internet identifiers” that they use when they go online.

The rationale for that is simple to understand since it is so easy for people to use social media accounts to pretend they are someone they are not and attempt to initiate communications with an unsuspecting person.

But how much information must be provided to DCJS is now the subject of a review by New York’s highest court. The Court of Appeals heard arguments June 5 with regard to a registration violation charge lodged against a North Country sex offender named ___ ___. Full Article

Join the discussion

  1. Will Allen

    People who support Registries and idiocy like this are morons. It should be beyond clear to even idiots like them that their “laws” are only going to affect people who are interested in living normal lives. Other people aren’t going to concern themselves with their “laws”.

    I think it is hilarious that Facecrook wants people to use their real names and yet they try to ban people who are listed on the big government hit lists. So guess what listed people do? Use fake identities. I’ve been on Facecrook forever and I will be as long as they dream it is acceptable to try to ban me. Guaranteed.

    • C

      Do you use your real name on FB? I’ve been on FB with my real name from the beginning and never had an issue. I maintain a social media presence so if/when people look me up they find a normal guy doing normal family stuff, and on LinkedIn normal business stuff. Hopefully it offsets the public registry BS a little.

      • Cool Ca RC

        It the shady people that know who you are. I been reported so many time using my real name. Now I don’t even use my full name. Allso, I don’t “friend” everyone that asked. just limited trust friends and families

    • Tim in WI

      Congress is buzzing about big tech breakup on antitrust grounds. FAANG firms are attempting to head off the growing concern among the masses. The insecurity of personal information from database MISUSE is spreading and what’s more perceptions are that it- the trend- is unstoppable. The folks- and courts- are slowly coming to terms with the real national security – and copyrights \ pattents- inherent in the CHOICE concerning unfettered potentially dangerous USES of the database machines. In sum the sheeple* op-ed for convenience and pay an untold price – to liberty AND lawfulness itself. Private personal information is inherently sovereign to each. The market for it insatiable, but that is also inherently necessary as commodity as food good ONLY for machine and not man.

      The Rehnquist court vastly underestimated the power of the electronic database infrastructure’s ability to obliterate traditional Sovereign boundary. Severely too clouding judicial distinctions thereby demonstrating the creation governmental overlaps in coverage of constitutional separations of power and duty. There will be no hiding it from history. Them that opted to indenture human to machine sealed too their own demise. You already know there is a draft petition about for removal- IMHO a marketable tact.

  2. Ali

    I gave my username when I registered. only use facebook and twitter and my Facebook account got suspended 1 year after registering.

    I wonder how facebook found out? I have a hard time getting facebook to delete duplicate accounts/bots/spammers etc…

    • CR

      See US Code Title 42 Chapter 151 subchapter 1 section 16915b. The US Attoney General’s office maintains a national database of our reported “internet identifiers” for the use of social networking companies. This is part of the Adam Walsh Act.

      You report your identifiers to your registering authority, and your state sends these to the federal government, who puts them in the database that is made accessible to the social networking companies.

      • AJ

        AWA, etc. got transferred in the Federal Code a couple years back. The applicable law is now 34 U.S.C. 20917, but it’s otherwise identical.

        Interestingly, Title 42 is “The Public Health and Welfare” whereas Title 34 is “Crime Control and Law Enforcement.” Huh. Why would one need to be a non-punitive regulatory scheme in a crime and LE section?

        • CR

          @AJ: You are right. I forgot. Thank you.

          I know that in Texas, the registration laws are part of the Code of Criminal Procedure. I bet that is true of most other states too. And yet, it’s purely regulatory, right? Yeah, right.

  3. Tim

    They utilized your email addresses by cross reference to the list of registered persons KNOWN email accounts. Registrants are electronically blacklisted.

    • Bruce Ferrell

      Facebook has long been known to maintain active cross reference scans of registry web sites to determine if an account might be connected to a registrant.

      If someone flags your account, it is disabled for a terms of service violation.

      You then must dispute the deactivation.

  4. Anonymous

    This law saves children from sex abuse, right?

    • Mike G

      Of course!
      Every new law saves thousands and thousands of innocent children from abuse!
      If you don’t believe me, just ask the authors of the laws!

  5. Bo

    The Court of Appeals is expected to issue a ruling within the next month. If Ellis prevails as he did in the appellate court, then New York will be left with a hole in its safety net for those who rely on the Sexual Offender Registration Act to protect their families.

    The repair of that hole would have to be done by state lawmakers.

    Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at

    Nice of him to include his contact information. It would seem a reasonable place to communicate our experiences and point of view.

  6. Scotus Save Us Now

    I don’t even understand how this is an issue after packingham. The purpose of estop and the collection of this information is to pass it on to social networking sites so they can ban you. The state cannot ban people from social media and by collecting the list to pass on they are essentially doing that. Where is the ACLU …

    • Bruce Ferrell

      packingham simply says the state cannot block access to social media.

      It says nothing about terms of service of the social network provider.

      • Janice Bellucci

        In an attempt to clarify, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Packingham case that governments (city, county, state, federal) cannot deny registrants access to social media. The Court’s ruling, however, does not apply to private owned websites such as Facebook and Next Door. Those websites can and do establish policies for who may or may not access their websites. Unfortunately, they have chosen to ban anyone convicted of a sex offense (Facebook) or even any household that includes a person convicted of a sex offense (Next Door). In the case of Facebook, I have heard that the website removes a person’s Facebook page without giving him/her notice and that information on the website cannot be retrieved.

        • AJ

          “…and that information on the website cannot be retrieved.”
          I’m guessing FB’s ToS states they acquire and/or own rights to anything and everything you post, read, etc. on their site in perpetuity. If so, they’re simply keeping you from taking and/or illegally copying “their” stuff. You know, things like pictures of your kids, the obituary of your mother. Little things like that for which they have great use.

        • Chris f(@Janice)


          Why is it not a part of a facial substantive and procedural due process challenge against being put on a registry in the first place since doing so subjects people to an impact on their first amendment rights? (Among all the other fundamental rights also impacted)

          I do believe every box has now been checked off that the justices said were not impacted by being on a registry in Smith v Doe. Also, Connecticut DPS v Doe 2003 said no inference to dangerousness was implied by being registered so no due process triggered, but once IML and federal housing assistance denial were implemented, there is now a defined dangerousness implied.

          When is it time to properly re-challenge those horrible 2003 decisions that were based on false data and impacts to liberty that have gone up exponentially?

        • Scotus Save Us Now

          @Janice – while i agree with your reply, if the state is collecting the email address and identifiers to turn over to the social network knowing the social network will delete the account, isn’t that in fact the same idea as the state doing it themselves? Which is exactly what NY is doing.

          Also under California law isn’t it illegal to discriminate based on the registry? Also with FB being a quasi public town square now, even used by the gov’t to inform people of things going on, wouldn’t that be an argument that is now “public space” and they are violating the 1st amendment?

        • CR

          @Chris f:

          Social media companies can ban us even absent public registeries and the government’s internet identifier database. Criminal arrest and conviction records are public. Companies exist that aggregate these public court records to make them easy for others to access. The social media companies could ban anyone they wish for any reason, regardless, so long as the basis isn’t a status prohibited by the Civil Rights Act. So it does not appear that the government is infringing our first amendment rights through registration.

        • Will Allen

          I’ve said for a long time that no government should be allowed to use Facecrook. There is no way that any legitimate government could put important community information, especially something like public safety information, on Facecrook when it is known that some citizens are actively prevented from accessing the information. That cannot possibly be legitimate or legal.

          Further, how could they allow ANY communications on ANY issue at all on Facecrook? They allow the public to discuss key community issues, including public safety. Again, cannot possibly be legitimate or legal. They can’t be facilitating communications where some citizens are excluded.

          All of these criminal regimes need to get out of Facecrook’s pants and create their own websites or whatever. Has to be done.

        • Chris f(@ cr)


          Social media companies like Facebook ban because your email address and name are provided by the government. Too many people have similar or the same names, and can have any email address they want to so there is no way Facebook can ban someone based on a third party criminal history search. They can also ban if another person reports that someone is a sex offender, but that is a small percentage compared to those auto banned by the list.

          Nextdoor bans everyone at the address where a sex offender lives. They cant get that kind of up to date data anywhere but our government list.

          Nor would any of these social media companies take on the time and expense of trying to research everyone. They are quite content using the free list. In addition, they have no liability if a bad person is on their site if they arent on the free list, because they can’t be expected to background check everyone. They could be liable if given a list of bad people and the email address they are using to sign up.

          There is no way around this. The government list is the cause of 99.9% of the bans that impact free speech rights. Take away the list, or limit it to those determined by a judge to need to be banned from everything, and you end the problem of 1st amendment violations.

        • TS

          I wonder if FB would ban or does ban anyone from another registry in use in this country or just those they currently do? Not that it matters, but would interesting to know.

        • Will Allen

          Chris f:

          I like your writings but why do you insist on calling people “sex offender”?

        • CR

          @Chris f:

          I am sure you are right about where and how ND and FB get info about us. My point was that they could get the info even without the government lists, yes, even though your current address may differ from what is in your offense-related court records. It would doubtless be more costly for them, and might not be worth it to them for that reason, but it is possible.

          Despite all that, they are not the government, they are not prohibited by the first amendment from denying us their platform from which to speak, so there is no violation, regardless of where they get their info about us.

          That is how I see it, anyway, and how courts have seen it so far.

          A challenge like you suggest would be interesting to follow, but I don’t think it could win so long as the government itself is not operating FB and ND.

        • Chris f (@ Will Allen)

          @Will Allen

          Sorry, I don’t like to offend anyone and often try to replace “sex offender” with “registered person”. In many cases though, when I am discussing how companies or groups see us I just use the terms they use that evokes their own fear. Quite frankly, I have never been one to water stuff down and be the most sensitive and politically correct either. Always calling ourselves just “registered” like we are just registered to vote or registered to serve in the armed forces does nothing to change others or change our situation. The term “sex offender” isnt just some derogatory slang unoficially made up to offend us, its codified in our laws and as official as you can get. I even still refer to myself as a sex offender even though I have been off the registry for over a year. I will continue to apply the term and stigma to myself until it disapears for everyone. The term that strikes fear in the public strikes rage in me, so there will be plenty of times I dont replace within my writings. Again, sorry to those that take offense but I am not always going to edit myself…sometimes…hopefully…just not always.

        • Will Allen

          Chris f:

          Thanks for your reply. What really matters is that your heart and mind seems totally in the right place with it.

          I get it if you aren’t that worried about always editing it. But I don’t think the term should ever be used. I think the term “$EX offender” is the PC term. It is not PC to say, “No, that person is not that label.” It is PC and inoffensive to say “$EX offender”.

          Further, I don’t care if the term is codified or not. It IS a weapon of war. And it is the term that allows these criminal regimes to demonize people and commit their crimes. So I prefer a much more offensive term that would really upset anyone who supports the Registries and really make them lose their mind. THAT is what I think we should shove into their faces repeatedly until they get so sick of it that they just want to throw up and hope it goes away.

          I think “Registered Person” is too tame. I’ve used PRHRP before – Person Registered for Harassment, Restrictions, and Punishment. Personally, I think that is accurate and gets attention. But I’m listening for anything.

          Have to add – the criminal regime where I live likes to call people “offenders”. I’ve told them every time that I’m not an offender and they are. Also told them if they call me an “offender” I’m going to call them much worse. And I do. I’ve told them to “shove it up their asses” before and they love that.

        • AJ

          @Chris f:
          ” In addition, they have no liability if a bad person is on their site if they arent on the free list, because they can’t be expected to background check everyone.”
          Nor are social media or any government officials held liable if they mistakenly include someone who shouldn’t be in the list and/or banned. Gotta love when Congress makes laws where someone cannot be held liable for his/her actions, because there’s no way that introduces any malevolent activity by pencil-necked (or, for @TS: Skilcraft-pen-necked) bureaucrats.

        • TS

          Damn Skilcraft-pen-necked bureaucrats! They’re everywhere! 😆

        • Eli

          For non-anonymous speech where the real name of the registrant is used, FB could use court records to link someones name to their court records and then delete the account. . For anonymous speech accounts that do not use a registrants real name, not so. If you used “CR” or some other name that’s not your real name, FB could not delete the account without government aiding and abetting this censorship.

      • Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly

        “why do you insist on calling people “sex offender”?” Because that’s what we are referred to in law. Use quotes around it, as I do, to denote that it is someone else’s term for us, not our own. By using quotes, you completely obviate the reinforcement of the term as legitimate. You do understand that, right? Language is a wonderful, powerful thing. Just learn how to use it to best express yourself. In your case, you’ve decided to consistently misspell “sex” as “$ex” to the point of irritating the hell out of everyone else and making you appear to us as a one-note crank. Fair enough; I use “sex offender” in quotes. If I can tolerate “$ex” over-and-over again, you can tolerate “sex offender.”

    • Q

      @Packingham,- result,
      NO, you overestimate the courts powers to compel legislatures. Legislatures ” normally pay respects” to courts rulings. They refer to it as ” paying deference ” to court opinion. (Madison vMaybury). Mandamus by courts are far more rare indeed, see MI, and only in the most Clearly unconstitutional ” laws”. Note the Matsch court too DID NOT write about anything but ex post USE of the registration regime. A confirmation of ” punitive effect” yet not so far as to address the abhorrence of enslaving man to machine for life. WHEN HISTORY reconciles the gravity of this seemingly unimportant choice is really an apparent death nail to any conceivable human republic. The natural outcome from such inclinations as machine need outweighs human need can only result in Re: machina. One inevitable truth about corporate control in state’s lawmaking processes is K preferable to k in the long run given criteria stability( demand for personal information data remains consistant*)
      *Consistency is directly tied to long term profit stability
      **Firms lobby to make law promotion, known as ” rent seeking” in economic theory principally utilized to develop a market certainty. Namely , the free flow of citizens personal information mandated by law.

      The insecurity of the databases brings a whole new meaning to” e pluribus unum”
      In fact, this phrase describes the database and infrastructures perfectly.

  7. Anonymous

    Having a Facebook account is very close to being a necessity and something that cannot be denied. In my town there is an uprising against local government via an upstart opposition party. One must have a Facebook in order to communicate, use the forum, gather information and for all intents and purposes, “join.”
    Also, my freedom of speech is quelled because without a Facebook account, I cannot respond to extremely popular and extremely important news articles.
    These two examples are just the very tip of a huge iceberg and everybody knows it.

  8. Dizz

    Pled guilty today to 2 counts FTR internet identifiers (Facebook) (Felony – E). First recommendation from the prosecutor was 1 year county time on count 1 and dismissing count 2. I declined that offer and got 2 new prosecutors and a new attorney since receiving that offer last year – final sentence was $2,500 fine on each count today. I am in Missouri and we have some of the most egregious laws as it applies to changing or adding information with an LEO (must appear IN PERSON prior to creating the identifier). I’ve spent $20,000 fighting this thing, anyone know of a lawyer who would assist with a civil complaint in federal court pro bono?

    • Chris f

      Unfortunately, as you probably found the hard way, you cant even get good representation by paying for it. Most lawyers talk a good talk to get your money, and in the 11th hour tell you you have to take a horrible deal that is close to what the max sentence would be if you were found guilty. Then, behind your back, they brag to friends, family, and peers of how he got you screwed. There is no benefit to them to do otherwise. They just have to make sure they dont go too far and get in trouble with the BAR, and they also are likely not to show sympathy.

      Your best bet is to research law and read a lot of cases and file pro se like Mike R did. Of course, a badly done pro se case can hurt chances for the rest of us, so do it right or not at all.

      There are a few of us on here that are not lawyers but research enough to assist you or point you to good tools.

      The only way to win anything is to have skin in the game. Nobody has more skin in the game than you.

      • Dizz

        @Chris f thanks for the reply and yes I agree with most of what you said there as I found all of that out the hard way. I have a great paralegal I will likely use since he already wrote a summary on the unconstitutionality of this statute – we just never filed for dismissal using the case law etc.

        • AJ

          Here are cases SMART cites regarding Internet ID reporting and Internet bans:
          Doe v. Prosecutor, 705 F.3d 694 (7th Cir. 2013) (statute prohibiting sex offenders from using social networking websites, instant messaging services and chat programs violated the First Amendment);
          Doe v. Neb., 898 F. Supp. 2d 1086 (D. Ne. 2012) (requirement to provide internet identifiers found unconstitutional on First Amendment and other grounds);
          Doe v. Shurtleff, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73787 (D. Utah Sept. 25, 2008), vacated after legislative changes, 628 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. 2010);
          Harris v. State, 985 N.E.2d 767 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013) (statute prohibiting use of a social networking site by a registered sex offender violated the First Amendment).
          Of highest importance for you would probably be Doe v. Neb., as it’s within the same Circuit as MO. Read the case carefully, because it can easily appear the judge only addressed the complete ban on usage and the reporting of self-run websites and/or blogs.

          Also look into Doe v. Marshall (Middle District of AL, Northern Division. Case number 2:15-CV-606-WKW), specifically Count V, Overbreadth. I’ve uploaded the Opinion here:, and it will remain valid for 30 days. Don’t be afraid of that odd URL. It’s simply a place to drop files anonymously. I personally downloaded the PDF from PACER, have stored it on my PC unmodified, and now uploaded it for your use. IOW, it’s a clean doc. Then again, your paralegal can probably get a copy himself. 🙂

        • Bo

          The files are also available on recap as needed. I just searched for the case number

  9. Dizz

    @AJ great info as I have those in my file currently! I encourage others to download from that link and read the opinion. Everyone has access to the courts, and even if you don’t have the $$$ you can still educate yourself and seek assistance.

    • AJ

      As @Bo mentioned, RECAP is a good source for lots of these Federal cases. One I really like (kudos to @mike r for finding it) is It’s a free resource that will find cases that may not even be available elsewhere. What I really like is they will post any positive or negative uses of whatever case you’re viewing. When you sign up, it may ask what you do in the legal community or whatever. Answer however you want. I was told directly by one of the webmasters that they were fine with everyday joes using the site. I’ve wandered down some case-law rabbit holes, that’s for sure! Notably, it was the only source that could find some arcane case mentioned in an AL suit. That sealed it for me as the go-to source.

      • Dizz

        @AJ WOW! good find… I only have the mainstream cases in my file however this is like the deep web of case law. The site seems to lag a bit for me but I think I’ll be playing with this all weekend.

        My paralegal has access to LexisNexis, is this the same?

        • AJ

          “WOW! good find”
          That kudo goes to @mike r. He turned me onto it. I, too, get some lag now and then. I also sometimes get an “Unexpected Error” pop-up in the top-right, but have never been able to discover what error occurred.

          “My paralegal has access to LexisNexis, is this the same?”
          I suspect Ross (as well as Casetext) is aiming for and at LN, but no, they are not in the same league. LN crushes everything else. But there’s a significant price difference between to two…especially since (so far) it’s free for me.

      • Chris f (@AJ)

        When I go to that rossintelligence site it wants to only give 15 days free and then monthly charges.

        Is it free for you for getting in early?

        • AJ

          @Chris f:
          I was unaware of the 15-day limit on Ross. I may have been grandfathered from their old EVA days (I liked EVA better, too). Then again my gravy train may end in the near future too, who knows.

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