CA Judge Considers Sex Offenders on Social Media (Sam Spital)

Commentary by San Diego Sex Crimes Defense & Criminal Attorney Sam Spital:

“On Monday, December 17, 2012, KNBC Channel 7 online edition contained a story regarding a hearing before the United States District Court and the validity of a recent 81% voter-approved initiative commonly referred to as Proposition 35 requiring registered sex offenders (RSO’s) to give authorities a list of their Internet providers and screen names. Currently there are about 73,000 RSO’s in the California Registry, and many of their convictions had nothing to do with using the internet.

The ACLU sued and contended the provision violates equal protection, due process and free speech of sex offenders pursuant to the U.S. Constitution. Thereafter, the Federal District Court Judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the enforcement of that portion of the new law. Now, the Federal Court will decide the nature and scope of free speech rights of such defendants, and whether registered sex offenders must reveal their online information such as email addresses, usernames, social media passwords and their Internet service providers to law-enforcement officials is lawful. The District Court case does not impact the increased sentences (longer prison terms) for convictions of human trafficking, nor that these convicted defendants must register as sex offenders.

The position of the Attorney General of the State of California is that law enforcement needs this information to investigate sex crimes and prevent them before they take place, also claiming this information is not a public record. However, this is a slippery slope in that the next thing the government will seek is to monitor everything we view online, including the books we purchase and read.”