Monday, June 25, 2012

Indiana law banning sex offenders from social networking sites upheld

In 2008, Indiana enacted a law that banned certain sex offenders from using social networking if the platform was also used by minors (statute available here). An Indiana resident challenged the statute as violating the First Amendment and suggested the prohibition would forbid him from checking his child's accounts, make political speech online, advertise his business, and connect with family and friends. The district court, however, held that no First Amendment violation exists. Doe v. Prosecutor, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86862 (S.D. Ind. 2012).

The court reasoned that the statute is narrowly tailored because it "only precluded [the plaintiff] from using web sites where online predators have easy access to a nearly limitless pool of potential victims.... [and] the vast majority of the internet is still at Mr. Doe's fingertips." For example, the court noted, he may still use LinkedIn because users must be 18 or over.

Additionally, the court suggested that many alternative channels of communication exist such as civic meetings, radio shows, letters to the editor, e-mail, and blogging.


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