A federal judge has temporarily blocked implementation of California Proposition 35, Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (“CASE ACT”), a new law overwhelmingly approved by 81 percent of voters on Election Day that contains a requirement for the state’s approximately 73,000 registered sex offenders to disclose online screen names and Internet service providers to law enforcement. A report from KTVU Fox Channel 2 News in Oakland, CA about the blockage of Proposition 35 is available at http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/judge-temporarily-blocks-prop-35-internet-disclosu/nSz4t/.
KTVU reports U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson issued a temporary restraining order in San Francisco in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by two registered offenders, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to block implementation of Proposition 35. The temporary order, which states that the plaintiffs “raised serious questions” about whether the law violates First Amendment right to free speech, will remain in effect until a November 20 hearing that will decide if a longer-term preliminary injunction against the disclosure requirement will be granted. More information about the case, Doe v. Harris, is available at https://www.aclunc.org/cases/active_cases/doe_v._harris.shtml.
California Proposition 35 requires all registered sex offenders to turn over a list of all their Internet identifiers and Internet service providers to law enforcement. According to the ACLU, this list would likely include “email addresses, usernames and other identifiers used for online political discussion groups, book and restaurant review sites, forums about medical conditions, and newspaper or blog comments.” In addition to requiring registered offenders to report their Internet information, Proposition 35 increases prison sentences and fines for people convicted of sex trafficking. The full text of California Proposition 35 is available at http://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2012/general/pdf/text-proposed-laws-v2.pdf#nameddest=prop35.
Sex offender registration requirements are commonly known as Megan’s Law after a seven-year-old girl named Megan Kanka who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved near her family in New Jersey without their knowledge. Megan’s Law was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in May 1996. The California Megan’s Law Sex Offender Registry website was established by the California Department of Justice and contains information on sex offenders that register under California Penal Code Section 290, the Sex Offender Registration Act. The California Megan’s Law website at http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/ currently contains the following update:
Federal Court orders temporary stay of law enforcement collection of registered sex offenders e-mail(s), screen name(s), and internet service provider(s) pursuant to Proposition 35, the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) Act. Until further notice, the DOJ and local law enforcement will not require registrants to submit this specific information.
California is not the only state attempting to get registered sex offenders to disclose Internet information. As reported previously on the ESR News blog ‘New Louisiana Law Requires Sex Offenders to List Status on Social Media Websites Starting August 1,’ legislation in Louisiana – House Bill No. 249 – expanded sex offender registration requirements by requiring sex offenders and child predators to state their criminal status on social media websites such as Facebook starting on August 1, 2012. The full text of the Louisiana law is available at: http://legiscan.com/gaits/text/637699/Louisiana-2012-HB249-Engrossed.pdf.
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