Sex offenders are fighting back against laws restricting their use of social networking websites and the Internet. And, some say, rightfully so and argue that a prohibition on their use of social media sites, chat rooms and other online discussions simply violates their constitutional First Amendment rights.
The restrictions and prohibitions on the use of the internet by courts and states all across the nation vary widely. Courts have long upheld restrictions on the locations those convicted of sex crimes may live or work, but there is no current prevailing high court ruling that entirely prohibits their use of the Internet.
Current Laws Vary By Jurisdiction
Federal judges in some jurisdictions, like Nebraska for example, have held that bans on social media use are unconstitutional and upheld the use of social networking sites by sex offenders.
And the American Civil Liberties Union in Indiana agrees arguing that it is simply “unconstitutional to deny a group of people who are no longer in prison or on probation the right to use modern forms of communication.” Ken Falk, legal director of Indiana’s ACLU chapter, told the Daily Herald online that “To broadly prohibit such a large group of persons from ever using these modern forms of communication is just something the First Amendment cannot tolerate.” The ACLU is currently challenging Indiana’s sex offender law passed in 2008.
However, other states, like Louisiana and Utah, allow the use of Social Media and the Internet by sex offenders but with restrictions.
In Louisiana, sex offenders are allowed to use the Internet for email, shopping and news purposes only. Utah allows sex offenders the right to use the Internet, but only if they provide the Utah Department of Corrections with all internet identifiers used for all webmail, chat, instant messaging, and social networking as well as passwords needed to access those internet websites.
The U.S. Supreme Court, however, hasn’t definitively stated whether the use of internet by sex offenders is or isn’t constitutional. Until then, laws regarding the use of Facebook, for instance, will continue to vary all across the nation.
While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer, Greg S. Law. To schedule a meeting with Greg, please call or complete the intake form below.
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