Federal judges have overturned an Indiana law banning registered sex offenders from Facebook. The 7th Circuit of Appeals in Chicago ruled the ban unconstitutional, on the grounds that it was too broad and wasn't well-targeted at protecting children.
The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of a man convicted of sex offenses including child exploitation. The group argued that he shouldn't be banned from social networks, since he is no longer on probation.
A previous ruling backed the Indiana law, on the grounds that social networks had become a "virtual playground for sexual predators."
Courts have overturned similar bans in Nebraska and Louisiana.
@DARSB If a business can post "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" or "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone" and those are not unconstitutional, then why is it unconstitutional for an online business to refuse service to registered sex offenders?
This is not something that can be defended. You can't disallow people their civil rights once they are no longer on probation. You can pass laws (which they should) increasing penalties for using social media to abuse children but you cannot start banning people because of past criminal records. You do this and the dominos will start to fall. First rapists, then S&M mistresses then high risk sexual acrobats, then gays, then people who like nude beaches, then people who are not married but having sex, then people..........and on and on and on and the next thing you know only Baptists or Mormons or Catholics get us social media. Is that really the result you want? Of course it's what the religious zealots want but it's not what I want. I would like to see Facebook and other social media be required to spend some of their mammoth profit for more monitoring of their sites but you can't ban people who are not under the jurisdiction of the court. That's just not constitutional.
What's your view on criminals or felons owning a firearm? I do agree with you that it could be a slippery slope but once your a felon and broken the law doesn't it mean you have given up some of your rights?
@Libertyiskey Certain felons can apply to have their rights restored and it does happen. I know a guy who got busted for pot possession many years ago who applied and got his rights to own a gun back. But we are speaking to first amendment rights here and I just don't see how that we can pass laws governing those rights for social media as a state or country. Facebook certainly can since every site has the right to control content. But as a govt function? I certainly hope it's not come to this. Let me ask you this. I don't watch Porn. Outgrew it years ago. Last week when there was an article about the school teacher who was fired for making porno movies several years before, on a whim, without thinking, I looked her up. Now My IP address is listed as having watched porn. I watched about a minute of a three minute clip. that was easy to find on google. Now there are those that would say I'm a pervert for doing that. You ban people for their past on Facebook by govt law and it won't be long until everyone who has ever clicked on a porn clip will be banned as well. Is that the slippery slope we want to be going down? I don't care nor need to know about your sex life providing it doesn't have to do with kids. But because you and I may not agree politically I'm not going to assume you are a pervert. HOWEVER there are many millions on either side today who will make that assumption based on nothing more than that. I just don't want to open that can of worms. It smacks of the USSR.
@Libertyiskey I may be wrong but I think almost any crime can be acclimated by penalty for using a specific avenue to do so. I'm basing this on California law that adds 5 years to a conviction if a gun is used in the commission of that crime. Seems like that has been upheld by the courts. Isn't it the same thing?
@jessejaymes I'm not sure I'm following you, so banning them from Facebook if they used it would be like the same as the other crimes? I'm not too prideful to admit I'm having trouble understanding you. If that is what you mean we are in agreement.
Again, the two answers provided are inadequate. AbSOlutely children must be protected. But so does the First Amendment. However, can't a judge sentence sex offenders to stay OFF-LINE? And as someone else mentioned, Facebook writes its own rules and can ban anyone convicted of sex offense. Also, properly crafted laws should stand. Just as felons are barred from owning guns.
A judge banning someone from Facebook would indicate that person is under the jurisdiction of the court. That doesn't require a state law. The state laws won't hold up anymore than they already have. This is one of those thing that religious zealots will claim you're "supporting pedophiles" if you are actually supporting the constitution but I don't care what they say about me. They called me that more than once without any cause whatsoever. I want pedophiles treated as harshly as rapists and murderers. But whatever the law is, the law is. And once they are not under the jurisdiction of the court the court should have no say in the matter.
@jessejaymes You know you speak to one of my pet peeves. In Utah if you have sex with a 14 year old girl it's legal. If you have sex with a 14 year old boy in Utah you're a pedophile. For some reason their ages are different as to consent. Yet in 48 other states you are now a pedophile regardless. Move that age up to 15 and it's not so many states. Up to 16 and now you're OK in most states. But it is 17 and 18 in some states. How is this rational? Especially when you are speaking to the internet? In my view we need a national age of consent. To start. I don't care if you make it 35 but we need consistency in our determinations. Next, in some states you can be required to register as a sex offender for life if you are caught peeing in an alley. Is this a pedophile? I think not. But to simply say a sex offender can't be on Facebook is ludicrous since so many states are so inconsistent as to what makes a sex offender. I read about a guy in Florida who had slept with a 16 year old when he was 21. He was declared a sex offender for life. He's now around 35, never been in trouble with the law before or since and he is required to stay away from schools, live as an outcast for life and report in constantly or be sent back to prison. Is that really what we want to be spending tax dollars to monitor for life? I understand your point and I would not be against it if we had some reasonable, rational laws that govern us all. But I'm going to be honest here. I see a huge difference in some guy 21 who had sex with a 16 year old and some guy going around molesting 4 year olds or some priest who constantly molested 14 year olds. I have no interest in that guy from Florida today. Just the way I see it.
@jessejaymes Re: Consistent age of consent laws, I so totally agree. When I was a kid in Hawaii, the age was 14, now it's 16. I believe that 16 is the average. Usually though, there is a distinction between pedophiles (prepubescent) and sleeping with minors. I also agree that pissing in an alley does NOT a sex offender make. This is one of those things left up to the states that should NOT be.
@Keyjo Generally states DO make a distinction between pedophiles and sleeping with minors but most states still make them register for life as a "sex offender". I just think we need a clear definition of what is a pedophile and lock them up for life since they can't be cured and since castration doesn't even slow them down. Back when my wife and I were working with sexually abused kids the national average for a pedophile is that they abused 7 kids before caught. I have no sympathy for them ever seeing light of day again. But as for the rest? Make a national age of consent, have them serve their time and be done with it. If they re offend then add time. It's not that important to me who is sleeping with 16 year olds since every day I see them with babies. Someone is sleeping with them and it's not me so it's none of my business basically. Too many states allow it for me to become upset when it happens. I prefer my partners to be older and more knowledgeable but I have more important things to worry about that getting hysterical about a 21 year old sleeping with a 16 year old.
Fake profiles are against the rules, and Facebook does disable them when they're made aware of them. But, they do not pro-actively seek them out, like they do registered sex offenders. Also, there is a mechanism for allowed Facebook pages that are not an individual's account (fan pages, for instance).
Why not? There are murderers, spree killers, rapists, robbers, white collar criminals, and all sorts of low-lifes on Facebook and other social networks. It's up to users of the cyberspace service to beware, just as they must be in everyday life elsewhere.
The question shouldn't be if they should keep sex offenders off FB...FB is full of immature ppl. Kids should definitely be kept off that if not all social networks! Who doesn't know somebody on FB that hasn't started an immature fight over a he said she said situation? Ppl need to grow up!
Nothing... Except that the laws in most states require registered sex offenders to give LE online account information. Failure to do that puts them in violation of their state's registration law. In most states, they face no less than 5 years in prison for doing that. Most offenders on the registries not interested in going back to prison and go out of their way to comply. Those who are not interested in compliance will always not be deterred by social media sites' rules or the laws of the states they live in. This is the fundamental flaw in all of this. In general, those who comply are not the ones society needs to be afraid of, and those who don't, are.
@LazerFlash those who would comply are also those who would not reoffend. In these days of Internet cafes and disposable smart phones there is no way to stop them. Preditors do not stop because of uninforceable rules.
A couple of years back a Tennessee boy, aged 17, was caught having sex with his 16 year old girlfriend. He was convicted of statutory rape and forced to register as a sex offender. Should he be kept away from social media?
One of my dad's friends had to take a leak on a golf course in ..i think it was Florida...there were houses around so he tried to be discreet in the trees available. when he finished his round there were two cops waiting with a lady at the clubhouse. they asked if he peed in the woods, he said yes and apologized saying he just had to go..the women confirmed he was the guy she had called the cops about and he was charged with indecent exposure and is now level 7 sex offender or something like that in that state.
Moral of this story..if the cops ask if you peed in the woods...LIE.
The only problem with this lawsuit - and other similar ones - is that regardless of the outcome, registered sex offenders are currently banned by Facebook's own policy. The real test will come if and when there is an attorney brave enough to take Facebook on directly and file a Class Action suit against the company. Until then, challenges to laws like the one in Indiana (and Nebraska, and Louisiana) do nothing but set precedent and give legislatures better ideas on how to restrict the rights of a class in society that everyone wishes would just go away - but is actually growing as at astronomical rate.
Politicians - and the people who elect them - need to comprehend that (1) those who register and follow the rules are among the least likely to re-offend,(2) those not on the list are the most dangerous,(making the registries and laws that severely restrict the day-to-day life of those registered virtually non-effective), and (3) the majority of registered sex offenders are not interested in re-offending, but are interested in trying to reintegrate into society, but are prevented from doing so by increasingly.
It's nice to say that child predators shouldn't be allowed on Facebook but how do you propose to enforce it? They can access the internet for free at coffee shops and the library and open an account instantly. There is no way to enforce such a decree, the best path is to prosecute them when you find out they are using social networks and chat rooms to find new victims. The same could be done to enforce a Assault Rifle ban by making the penalties way higher for using such weapons in crimes but everytime this is mentioned the NRA goes insane and blocks any attempt at these laws.
Sex offenses can range from peeing in public to first degree rape. As long as they do not violate the terms of their parole or release, then they are well within their rights to be on a social network.
Its no ones fault but their own that they (sex offenders) did what hey did. We have to insure safety to our communitys and not only our own children but all children . They should not be allowed to put our children at risk so, no. Not at all . They didnt earn the privelage to be trusted so shouldnt be. Thats just an open door for a repeat offense.. just a Common sense thing....
@cburden: That's just an over-simplified, knee-jerk reaction to an incredibly complex issue. There are dozens and dozens of instances of people being labeled as sex offenders who, in the reality of life shouldn't be. Not everyone on those registries is a rapist or pedophile.