January 19, 2014

The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California can NOT require registered sex offenders to report certain information regarding their Internet activity. In a case called Doe v. Harris, it was ruled that requiring registered sex offenders to report Internet activity would violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech.

Back in 2012, California voters passed Proposition 35, which impacted internet use for sex offenders. This law increased the penalties for human trafficking in California, but it also required all those who are subject to California’s sex offender registration requirement to report to the state every time they used a new Internet identifier or internet service provider. An internet identifier includes email addresses, screen names, user names, etc. that are used in social networking, Internet forum discussions, and more.

The Ninth Circuit Court now ruled that the previous requirement violates the constitutional rights of sex offenders. Initially, the law meant to prevent sex offenders from sharing child pornography or sexually explicit materials online. However, the Appeals Court decided they can not limit their ability to engage in protected free speech, such as discussing news articles or commenting on political topics.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.