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March 9, 2009

Should all sex offenders be barred from Facebook and MySpace?

The question in the title of this post is being debated now in Illinois as a result of new bills being proposed by some legislators.  This local article, headlined " GOP bills about sex offenders draw ire: Rights groups, others say they’re too strict," provides the details over the debate:

llinois House Republicans say state government should do more to keep sex offenders away from children and pornography on the Internet. But critics, including civil rights groups and Internet companies, say the ideas may go too far.

Republicans again are pushing a package of nearly a dozen bills that would strengthen laws against child pornography and restrict what Web sites registered sex offenders can visit.  The measures were spawned by a series of task force meetings House Republicans conducted in 2006, during which parents, law enforcement officials and community leaders testified about the growing dangers of social networking sites and child pornography.

The package includes House Bill 1312, introduced by House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego. It would prevent registered sex offenders from accessing social networking Web sites like Facebook and MySpace. The measure also would require the owners of these sites to verify the ages of all their users and verify the status of all guardians of minors who use the sites....

The Republican ideas are backed by the Illinois Family Institute, a Christian organization that provides “a biblical perspective to public policy.” David Smith, the organization’s executive director, says the rights of sex offenders should not preempt public safety. “Their freedoms need to be curtailed, to tell you the truth, as a result of their violation of public trust,” Smith said.....

Braden Cox, the policy counsel of NetChoice, called the social networking regulations in Cross’ bill problematic.... “This bill sounds good in theory, but you quickly see that it’s something that is not technically feasible and would create more problems than it would solve,” he said....

Kate Dean, executive director of the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association, said Reboletti’s service provider bill could be successfully challenged in court if it became law. “The courts have found similar approaches to be unconstitutional,” said Dean.

An Indiana law passed in 2008 bans sex offenders from using social networking Web sites, and states such as Minnesota, North Carolina, and Connecticut are considering similar measures. A Pennsylvania law forcing Internet service providers to restrict access to Web sites accused of hosting child pornography was ruled unconstitutional in 2004 by a federal judge.

March 9, 2009 at 09:07 AM | Permalink


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Glad to see this bill being pushed by a religious organization based on a faith that preaches forgiveness.

Posted by: MarkM | Mar 9, 2009 9:30:21 AM

Please see articles here:


As always, humanity, truth and evidence have little part to play in this issue in the USA.


Posted by: Dr Nigel Leigh Oldfield | Mar 9, 2009 10:55:22 AM

No! Not all sex offenders are trolling the internet looking for a victim, that is the typical fear-mongering by the media and politicians.

If they committed their crime using these sites, then yes, but not forever.

Posted by: Sex Offender Issues | Mar 9, 2009 2:59:21 PM

Keeping "sexual offenders" off the Internet sites is ridiculous! Where is the Civil Liberties Union? Many of these so-called "sexual offenders" are not the child predators that the law was supposed to target. They are just young men dating girls who looked older, acted older, and said they were older. Stop this mania!

Posted by: willow | Mar 20, 2009 1:31:54 PM

I am a student and while I agree that sex offenders should be limited from social networking sites, I am having a problem with the term "sex offender". Technically, in most states, public urination and intercourse (or oral sex) between minors is a "sex crime". These people can be labeled as sex offenders and have their lives unfairly restricted by all of these laws to keep people "safe". Lewd conduct (such as flashing, streaking and even mooning) is also considered a sex crime. Although I agree with the idea that social networking sites should be more closely monitored internally, I am hesitant to agree with a law that could limit the freedoms of law abiding citizens who just made a few mistakes.

Posted by: Michele | Aug 15, 2009 10:04:29 AM

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