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Sex Offenders Are Expected to Challenge Law Against Social Networking Site Use

Several men charged with violating a North Carolina law that prohibits sex offenders from using social networking sites are expected to appeal their conviction under the statute. While the law was signed into effect in 2008, only 18 were charged under the law in 2009 and 75 were charged in 2010.

Two attorneys for the men charged in Durham County plan to appeal their conviction on the grounds that the social networking ban for those convicted of sex offenses is unconstitutional. Critics of the law say that the measure goes too far in infringing on the rights of the sex offenders. They argue that social networking isn't only used for the purpose of talking with strangers; it's a useful tool to keep in touch with friends and family.

Supporters of the North Carolina social networking bill, however, argue that sex offenders who are caught violating the law are often given the opportunity to remove their profiles prior to their arrest. Supporters also believe that social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are dangerous places for child predators because of the high number of minors on the sites.

The main concern is that children who have profiles on social networking sites generally don't know how to establish secure privacy settings. Without the important settings, anyone, even sex offenders, can view their information, which can include a telephone number, email address and even a house address.

Time will tell whether the appeals challenging the law social networking site ban will be successful in finding that the law is unconstitutional as it applies to sex offenders.

Source: Star News Online "Sex Offenders Face Felonies for Using Social Networks," Erin Zureick, 5/7/2011

1 Comment

A problem with this law is that it curbs free speech to a group of individuals. You must ask yourself “What is a social network?” You will get lots of varied answers. But is the news media a social network? It used to be a news agency delivered to your doorstep. Today its business model has changed so that it may reach out to many and using the interactivity of the Internet is one of those core models. Websites now have the ability for a viewer to leave a response. What today may be a simple exchange between people may be deemed a social network by tomorrow’s standards. It depends on who defines or interprets what a social media really is. Government should never be in the business of determining who is allowed in viewing legal public Internet sites. A majority of sex related crimes prove very little to do with the Internet. Those that commit sexual related crimes know their victim. In essence, the sex offender Internet ban is nothing more than a constructive way to further isolate sex offenders and perhaps use a vaguely written law to further prosecute sex offenders. There is no statute of limitation of felony crimes in North Carolina. Therefore, a registered sex offender that has Internet footprints on a site may be charged anytime down the road - even if the information is dormant after a decade. Again, it all depends on who does the interpretation and is committed enough to charge sex offenders. Is this law a valuable resource of law enforcement and the courts time?

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