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Sex Offenders Must Hand Over Online Passwords 630

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-it-up dept.
mytrip writes "Privacy advocates are questioning an aggressive Georgia law set to take effect Thursday that would require sex offenders to hand over Internet passwords, screen names and e-mail addresses. Georgia joins a small band of states complying with guidelines in a 2006 federal law requiring authorities to track Internet addresses of sex offenders, but it is among the first to take the extra step of forcing its 16,000 offenders to turn in their passwords as well."
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Sex Offenders Must Hand Over Online Passwords

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  • Nice. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @09:36PM (#26274739)

    Because no one would ever log into a website with a known sex offender's password and make incriminating posts in order to have said offender sent back to prison. Seriously, what will be the penalty when (not if) this happens?

  • stupidity (Score:2, Interesting)

    by StuartFreeman (624419) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @09:41PM (#26274789) Homepage
    As a Georgia resident, my opinion on this is that if they're still dangerous we should keep them in jail.  This half-assed stuff just weakens civil liberties for law abiding citizens.
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @09:41PM (#26274799)
    It's going to be hard to fight this sort of "THINK OF THE CHILDREN" type of thing. I mean, what are you? A pedophile? After all, only sex offenders that haven't yet been busted would object, right? So which is it? Little boys or little girls?
  • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @09:44PM (#26274825)
    i think this violates the 5th amendment in my view, cause you are givin' up information stored in your head up to be used against you.
  • Unconstitutional? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by diewlasing (1126425) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @09:47PM (#26274861)
    Didn't a federal court in Vermont recently rule that even child pornographers didn't have to turn over their passwords on the grounds that they might incriminate themselves?
  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @10:24PM (#26275295) Homepage

    I don't know about the fifth amendment argument, but the "ex post facto" issue is avoided by having the courts declare that the measures aren't punitive in nature. It's patently ridiculous, but it's worked in the past [abanet.org].

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonser@g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @10:49PM (#26275527)

    I believe the point of the whole idea is that the monitoring/tracking is part of their sentence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @10:55PM (#26275599)

    I happen to work in GA. One of my coworkers is a registered sex offender. I was tipped off about it by an ex-employee who had gotten canned and was upset that he'd gotten fired when the company allowed a sex offender to stay.

    So I confirmed the info. My coworker is indeed on the GBI registry and he knows that I know. It's not something that impacts his work here in any way and I frankly don't worry about it.

    The company we work for does a lot of work that involves trade secrets and confidential information, which we have promised to our clients that we will protect. We have a legal obligation to do so. We also have internet access at work and it's sort of integrated into the services we provide.

    My question is: does my co-worker now have to hand over his work passwords to the state?

    And if so, and the state decides to go snooping around my company's network..... I cannot imagine a good outcome. Everything from our confidential data exposed to state workers who haven't signed our privacy agreements, or client data accessed and downloaded on a non-secure PC used for who knows what, to pages printed out and passed around a state office. We don't know who those state workers are and dammit we are not going to allow them to touch our data or our client's data.

    There is absolutely NO way we can allow the state to have that kind of access without a warrant, and it had better be a federal warrant. If my coworker hands over his work passwords, the company will fire him, which will immediately screw all of our clients and throw the place into turmoil that it will probably never recover from. The company -already eyeing closing this office- will take this as a good time to close the GA office and put another 60 people out of work and off the tax rolls.

    And what will ruining one man's life gain the state or anyone else? Not a damn thing.

    I'm not going tell my coworker. If he doesn't know, he won't be forced to comply and I won't be forced to

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @10:57PM (#26275621)


    Just getting arrested doesn't mean he has to be on the sex offender list - he had to also get charged by the wrong DA and sentenced by the wrong judge. And all this time he hasn't written to the governor for a pardon?

    Sex offenders don't generally get pardons, no matter how silly the offense is. The reason is that no politician wants to be the one who has attack ads about them pardoning sex offenders.

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:17PM (#26275785) Homepage Journal
    That may be true that children are being harmed, it dosen't necessarily mean that the person viewing it contributed to the harm.

    Filming yourself raping a kid, or paying somebody who did, knowing somebody who raped a kid and doing nothing, or even distributing is much different than a one-time anonymous download from bittorrent where some successful businessman with mommy issues imagines that he is the boy being taken advantage of by the adult woman.

    Using your logic, everybody should be charged with public endangerment, destruction of property, evading an officer, resisting arrest, and a myriad of other offenses just because they like to watch COPS or America's Best Police chases: volume 5.
  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:49PM (#26276105)

    IN some states, the age of consent and child porn statutes have the same age limits.

    For instance, a quick read of NV law shows the AOC to be 16. Child porn is defined as sexually explicit blah blah blah involving a person under 16. Federal law makes it a crime with a person under 18, but there may be some state line/interstate commerce nexus that needs to be fulfilled.

    I didn't feel like looking at too many states, but found this same AOC/CP thing with NH-16/16.

    Many states forbid distributing/exhibiting obscenity to people under 18, regardless of their AOC/CP statutes.

    SO, excluding the feds, it's not a crime to have sex with a 16 year old or film it. But, she can't watch the tape afterwards. It's a crime to allow her 16 year old friend to watch the act as it occurs, but not a crime to have her join. Neither of them can smoke a cigarette or have a beer afterwards. If either one were to rob,beat,kill one of their fellow particpants, they would be tried as an adult in every state in the country.

    -- Stolen from a Fark Thread.

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hahafaha (844574) * <lgrinberg@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:06AM (#26276643)

    Right, then.

    > That's that other part of the Constitution, you remember the
    > one about double jeopardy. If someone got convicted and sentenced
    > for lewd behavior, they can't increase the sentence afterward even
    > if they discover that the person may have committed several
    > rapes 15 years prior.

    Are you bloody serious? Do us all a favour and look up terms before using them. Double jeapordy refers to being tried on the _same charge_ more than once. If you rape someone fifteen years ago and then get charged on some unrelated crime, you can still be charged on the original rape. They were never part of the sentence.

    > So then the person goes free with little more than a slap on the wrist
    > and the public feels they were let down by the Constitution and
    > the system in general.

    This is a much more nebulous statement, but I will dignify it by pointing out that if "the public feels let down by the constitution", that's no reason to break it, that's, at best, a reason to change it.

    > This is why we have vigilante justice and people thinking like the GP,
    > and for good reason. Sorry, I know the founding fathers meant well but
    > the Constitution doesn't protect us from the real world as it is today.

    That's not a reason to ignore it, that's a reason to fix it.

    > Currently it serves to protect a criminally insane President and tons of
    > his cronies but does nothing to protect us from the government itself
    > so long as we continue to think that little piece of paper in D.C. is our
    > savior.

    Actually, the constitution doesn't protect this "criminally insane President". If anything, it limits his power. Tons of laws passed while he was in office do serve to protect him, but they are unrelated to the constitution and, in some cases, arguably directly infringing on it. And yes, I would like to think of "that little piece of paper in D.C" as my saviour. Or, more accurately, honest judges intelligently interpreting it.

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mweather (1089505) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:18AM (#26276731)
    Totalitarianism is a component of fascism. Hitler AND Mussolini were both totalitarian AND fascist.
  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:34AM (#26276865)

    retroactive punishment is the very definition of an 'ex post facto' law. Such laws are expressly prohibited to be enacted. In the boilerplate articles of the constitution is the statement that congress will enact no 'ex post facto' law nor any 'bill of attainder'. Don't know what these are? Look them up! It's a big internet, and wiki's are all over stuff like this. As for handing over something as ephemeral as 'screen names' and/or passwords to websites. Go ahead and hand em over, sickos. We all know that government is essentially stupid as run over deer in this. Anyone with more than the sense God gave a turnip will KNOW that you probably have replacements in mind less than fifty microseconds after you hand over this crap. What the government will get is at best worthless as guns 'voluntarily handed back to the city of Chicago' during one of their 'amnesty and cash for guns' programs of over a decade ago; and at worst an albatross around the neck of the government that will have to track all these millions of worthless 'names' that will never again be used unless some noob just happens to pick it out of innocent ignorance for HIS first screen name for some site. Maybe some of the sickos will visit libraries....like most of them seem to do...and be a digital guerrilla just for old times sake...for a few minutes with someone elses 'bad name'...and duck out just ahead of the surete Quebec SturmAbteilungen.

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:36AM (#26276881) Journal

    So, if an 18-year-old has sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend, who he later marries, he's a "pervert" who is most likely to fuck 17-year-olds repeatedly, and has no right to a private life?

    What if it's This 18-year-old and his 15-year-old girlfriend [apublicdefender.com]? He deserves all that for being born 15 days too early? (Sorry for linking to a blog; the actual story seems to be a dead link.)

    I mean, you're dead wrong about real sex offenders being likely to do it again, anyway. But the larger problem here is, the definition of "sex offender" is broken.

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:47AM (#26276937) Homepage Journal

    The founding fathers of the US, when they declared their independence, would disagree that England wasn't a tyranny. The Declaration of Independence says, "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world." Yes, absolute tyranny, which for the colonies in America was the way the King's rule was seen.

    I would remind you of John Adams' strenuous disagreement with this terminology, which he felt was chosen by Franklin and Jefferson to incite feelings of rage, rather than to reflect accuracy - indeed the very grounds on which I objected to the use of the term. Please remember that the soverignity that America was seeking was against the laws of Parliament, not of the King; particularly the Stamp Act and the Townshend Act. The phrase "no taxation without representation" doesn't make sense in an actual tyranny, and of course, that was the rebelling pretext: that America should be represented in Parliament if Parliamentary law was to apply to them. Indeed, the very concept of representation cannot, by definition, exist under a tyranny.

    It is critical in understanding the works of our founding fathers to remember who Benjamin Franklin was: in every sense a pulpit liar, and a damned good one. He made not one but several careers from spinning things with a sort of careful carelessness, allowing his flair for writing to spill over his accuracy in speech. It is a minefield to attempt to take Franklin's writing literally. This propensity for flair over substance was the crux of Franklin's division with Adams (and indeed also between Adams and his cousin Sam, who with Jefferson and James Wilson ran slipshod over using the King as a focus for their rebellion against the acts of Parliament).

    I appreciate that you're working from source material; that's new and refreshing in this discussion. I entreat you to resolve one riddle: how can someone be represented in a tyranny? Alternately, how am I misunderstanding the Parliamentary debacle regarding juxtaposed representation by proxy through Crown citizens?

    I mean, really, it's important to remember that America's founding fathers tried to be a voting part of the British empire, when you discuss their views of the British governmental system. If it was a tyranny, there would be no Parliament to be a part of.

    People have, for thousands of years, misappropriated the word "tyranny" to create an emotional reaction in their audience. I hope you'll resist the urge; simply citing Ben Franklin doing the same thing that grandparent poster did doesn't actually show the founding fathers believing in a fantastically inaccurate view of the British government. The British king was not an absolute monarch, and had not been for several hundred years. The founding fathers were perfectly aware of the Magna Carta. Please be serious.

    I won't touch the origins of sex offender laws

    That's unfortunate, since it's the immediate context of the things I said, and distancing yourself from that does damage to the legitimacy of your arguments.

    Hitler's political leanings are immaterial to the tactics he used.

    You're quoting two disconnected issues and treating them as related. That's problematic.

    The tactics which the GP is referring to is the gradual taking away of rights of people that aren't popular.

    Yeah, that's exactly my point. Sex offenders aren't being punished because they're unpopular. You might as well suggest that murders are being persecuted for being unpopular. I immediately and candidly disagree with this viewpoint. This isn't a popularity contest. It never has been. This is a question of people who go out and hurt other people being kept in check.

    The equivalent argument in a mo

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AngelofDeath-02 (550129) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:56AM (#26276981)

    You probably won't read this but...

    Regardless of your disputing the way the Grandparent post portrayed his argument, I must admit I'm inclined to agree with him.

    1) The news article is light on details about who is classified as a sex offender. If public urination leads to forfeiting your passwords ... that's bad. I'm less objectionable if we're talking about felony offenses. I also don't know what kind of charge rape would be for having sex with a similarly aged under 18 year old girl would be, particularly if Daddy decides to take revenge, but I would also object to this law applying to such situations.

    2) This doesn't just invade the privacy of the convicted sex offender. It invades the privacy of whomever they are communicating with. Some will doubtlessly be informed such as friends and family - but coworkers? And buddy - I don't know about you but I don't actually look up my neighborhoods sex offenders. I don't have kids, so do I now need to police everyone I e-mail because someone wants to imprison people in the comfort of their own homes?

    I get that serious sex crimes are repeated and jail time does nothing to dissuade their impulses. I also get that most of them have been victimized themselves and are stuck in a vicious cycle. Great - More jail time. Seriously, computer crimes are punished more.

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:59AM (#26277003) Homepage Journal
    You idiot, read this

    Filming yourself raping a kid, or paying somebody who did, knowing somebody who raped a kid and doing nothing, or even distributing is much different than a one-time anonymous download from bittorrent where some successful businessman with mommy issues imagines that he is the boy being taken advantage of by the adult woman.

    part of my post and try again. The issue here is that the mere viewing of CP should be treated much seperately than its manufacture and distribution.

    And the fact that there's a demand for CP, enough to make it illegal(and that its mere possession was made illegal in the first place), says a lot about human nature. Much like the bestial curiosity to witness police chases. Or bestiality. Or gun battles in Iraq. A big "whoosh" for you missing entirely the point of my previous post.

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kleen13 (1006327) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @03:00AM (#26277305)
    I think the point here is recidivism, but that's just me.
  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sorthum (123064) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:59AM (#26277795) Homepage

    Sure, for values of "rape" that include a 19 year old porking his 17 year old girlfriend...

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @06:27AM (#26278171) Journal

    Two words for you: McMartin Preschool [wikipedia.org]. You see red scares and witch hunts always start with the BEST of intentions. But then along the way too many start foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs and then pretty much anyone can get into the crosshairs. Don't forget that just the other day we saw the guy convicted of child pr0n for having a freaking dirty Simpsons cartoon! So are you going to line up everyone who has ever seen a manga or hentai? Because pretty much every cartoon coming from Japan kinda " looks lolita" to me.

    You see, when you get to the point that you label a crude drawing of someone with mustard for skin and 4 fingers and a head made out of spikes instead of hair as the same as a picture of a sexually abused 10 year old you have already gone past "protecting kids" and moved into the realm of "find us someone to hate!" which sadly is the point we have moved into now.

    The truly fucking sad part for me is I used to make fun of those "crazy" militia guys living in the hills armed for WWIII saying that we would march lockstep into a police state and that they would use propaganda to lull the populace into going along. That slowly but surely piece by piece the constitution would be nullified by illegal laws first aimed at the hated, then eventually turned upon us all. I thought they were totally batshit nuts. Of course that was before you could spend 20 years in the pen and be branded a monster for life if you saw a cartoon character doing the nasty. If this shit keeps up I am going to have to see how much land up there by those "crazy" militia folk are, because frankly they are beginning to scare me a whole hell of a lot less than the folks making the laws right now.

  • Re:First Reaction (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @06:48AM (#26278285) Journal

    Please, just stop worshipping the Constitution blindly. I guess it comes from the American education. Don't they teach critical thinking there at all?

    I'm not an American, but my take on it is this: Americans (the smarter ones) "worship" the concept of the Constitution as a written document regulating and limiting the rights of the government, not the document itself in its specific form. At least, I haven't yet seen people defending Constitution who objected to the idea of constitutional amendmends. Of course it's a document that has to evolve with time; the point is that there is a well-defined process of changing it, with a lots of checks and balances protecting the rights of all involved, that should be followed, and that Constitution as it stands at a given moment of time should be strictly adhered to for the whole system to be meaningful. That makes sense.

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZmeiGorynych (1229722) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:27AM (#26279057)

    > Rapists are punished because they ruined someone's life.

    We're not talking about rapists, we're talking about 'sex offenders'. That includes urinating in the bushes, and statutory rape between consenting people, and I'm sure there's more. Yes, *some* 'sex offenders' have done grievously wrong things, but others haven't - which is why depriving every 'sex offender' of rights in such a way is wrong, wrong, wrong - any outrage over the actual rapists among them notwithstanding.

    It's wrong in the same way that it's wrong to throw into the same 'pedophile' group people who actually molest children and those who have downloaded some free illegal porn (or even cartoons) off the web.

  • by Cogneato (600584) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:08PM (#26282455) Homepage

    A lot of people here are bringing up "peeing on a bush" as an absurd sex crime, which it is, but I wanted to list a few more that are felonies in my state (Ohio):

    Sex with your wife: If your wife has one drink of wine and you have sex with her, by the letter of the law here, that is rape (Felony 1) or at the very least, Sexual Battery (Felony 3).

    Sex with a co-worker: Any time you date someone that is of a different power-level than you, and that could affect your power-level (boss/employee, teacher/student, etc.), even if both people are of legal age and consenting, it is a Felony 3 Sexual Battery.

    Owning "Girls Gone Wild": If you bought a copy of Girls Gone Wild, and then later it was found that one of the girls was 17 (which has happened), you are committing a crime of owning child pornography (Felony 4 to 2, depending upon the nature of the content). Beyond this, ignorance is not an excuse. By the letter of the law, even if you thought that you were buying legal content and even if you never heard the report of the girl being underage, you are still guilty. The law is phrased so that it only questions the subject age, not the viewer's knowledge.

    And while the idea of the victim needing to "press charges" is great for TV, none of these crimes (or any crime) actually requires it. If a prosecutor wants to prosecute you, then they can do so whether or not the victim "presses charges". In many ways, the prosecutor is the first judge -- they can deem you innocent or make your life a living hell.

    God bless America.

  • Re:Constitutionality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:45PM (#26282991) Homepage

    They aren't being singled out. From the day this justice system was founded, being convicted of certain crimes has stripped you of some of your fundamental rights, even after you're released. This is justice 101. You're completely out in left field here.

    Felons can't even vote, for christ's sake.

    Excellent post, but I think you come to the wrong conclusion.

    The fact that felons can't vote is just another example of the exact same problem: continued punishment that extends past what would otherwise be the reasonable bounds of a sentence, in the the worst cases indefinitely. And the ultimate effect is a dangerous one: it creates a second class of citizen; individuals convicted of crimes who are then unable to fully reintegrate with society. Not the greatest outcome if your goal is rehabilitation and reduction in recidivism rates.

    Of course, this isn't as great a problem for systems where there is some horizon at which point the individual is removed. But life-long registration and tracking is, in my mind, deeply antithetical to a truly effective, just legal system.

    Problem is, that isn't the goal of the US criminal justice system. The goal of said system is simply this: revenge.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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