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EFF Sues to Block New Internet Sex-Offender Law 305

Bobfrankly1 writes "The EFF sued to block portions of the approved Prop 35 today. Prop 35 requires sex offenders (including indecent exposure and non-internet offenses) to provide all of their online aliases to law enforcement. This would include e-mail addresses, screen and user names, and other identifiers used on the internet. The heart of the matter as the EFF sees it, would be not only the chilling effect it would have on free speech, but also the propensity of these kind of laws to be applied to other (non-sex offending) people as well."
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EFF Sues to Block New Internet Sex-Offender Law

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:38PM (#41914633)

    4chan (pedo central) doesn't use usernames, accounts or aliases so they wouldn't be required to report it!

  • by olsmeister ( 1488789 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:43PM (#41914673)
    I think such an attitude makes you depraved, and possibly dangerous/psychotic.
  • by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:47PM (#41914699) Homepage Journal

    In my state, "sex offenders" include people who have urinated in public, people who forgot to close the bathroom shades before getting out of the shower, and a great many teenagers who couldn't keep it in their pants. Are these the "depraved and psychotic people" whose lives you wish to destroy?

  • EFF has it right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:50PM (#41914727)

    Nowadays a lot of people are classified as sex offenders that shouldn't be, like teenagers that send each other naughty pictures, or somebody that texts a lewd message to the wrong recipient. These people barely meet the definition, yet are branded for life.

    If the sex offender status could be assigned with accuracy, I think this proposition would be okay. But it isn't, so the proposition means people are going to get hurt who shouldn't have even been declared as sex offenders in the first place. The proposition compounds the challenges these people face.

    And I agree with the EFF that it's a dangerous trend to set. If you want to take away the anonymity of some pervert, do it for a real criminal who posts a credible threat to the community. Many people with the sex offender status don't fit that definition at all.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:52PM (#41914739)
    Unconvicted people are potentially dangerous criminals and should have absolutely no rights to privacy. I don't care what the Constitution says, someone who peed in an alley once where nobody could see should have their lives destroyed. There could have been a school fieldtrip to that alley at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night and have accidentally seen a penis.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:53PM (#41914741)

    Never underestimate the willingness of unthinking cowards to try to take away the rights of others, especially if the believe it will never affect them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:55PM (#41914753)

    Who defines potential? Personally, I find you potentially dangerous, and definatly psychotic.

    Also, to what end do we allow Prop35? Many states not only don't distinguisy between juvinile and adult sex offenders, but also require longer then juvinile life (21st birthday in most states) registration requirements.

    And if this passes, who's to say that in the near future, you will loose all anonymity for simply dis-agreeing with the powers that be.

    No. This can not be allowed to happen.

  • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:58PM (#41914781) Homepage

    People caught peeing in a bush are treated the same as child molesters under this law. It also includes people that in any way benefit from solicited sex, including the family of people willingly involved in the sex trade.

    Violent offenders are already incarcerated, and those that have been released from prison after serving their time are still pretty closely monitored. This proposition sought to make a crime "more illegal" in order to increase the government's authority. The weasel-wording of the bill's description ("increase penalties for sex trafficking") allowed that to get through with an overwhelming majority; suffice to say, I'm not impressed.

  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @10:04PM (#41914843) Homepage
    Also, seems like something they could use to trump up charges on people they didn't like. Oh, you didn't tell us about that account you created on www.example.com for that one comment you posted 2 years ago. So many sites require you to create accounts for even basic things like posting comments that most people probably couldn't be reasonably expected to remember every fake alias they've ever created.
  • 3 Strikes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penurious Penguin ( 2687307 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @10:11PM (#41914877) Journal
    What is needed is a 3 Strikes law, where-after attempting to pass three insane draconian laws, such fiends are registered as civil-offenders and no longer permitted within 100' of a computer device. They should also be required for 10 years to kneel on all fours immediately (while humming the National Anthem) whenever a weary pedestrian needs a place to sit. Their only other option would be joining the French Foreign Legion, which of course would be the default option.
  • by flimflammer ( 956759 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @10:11PM (#41914879)

    I was so annoyed by that proposition when I read it on the ballot. It was two totally separate issues that should have been separate. I am all for increased punishments for those caught dealing with human trafficking but I'm not about to agree to the part at the end about sex offenders needing to explain their whole internet life. We take enough of their rights away as it is and not all of them are even guilty of a serious crime.

  • Re:Yeah right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @10:50PM (#41915113) Journal

    Well, it's one of those things that they can pile on if they're busting someone with a charge that won't stick.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @11:10PM (#41915223)

    ...offenders are already incarcerated, and those that have been released from prison after serving their time are still pretty closely monitored

    In my opinion, once a person has served their sentence, their criminal record should be sealed and not available to anyone, unless the person commits another criminal act, throughout their parole period, and after the successful completion of the period of parole the record should be expunged after 2 years. The whole criminal justice system seems intent upon punishing people for eternity; rather the focus should be rehabilitation and re-integration into society. If a convict is likely to re-offend maybe the person should never have been released from prison. From the moment of release from prison only the police should have access to the person's record but no background check for employment should reveal the existence of the record for all but a select few jobs (financial services, working with the vulnerable, position of trust which includes public office holders). Otherwise, society might as well tattoo a red 'C' on the forehead of the convicted. If a person commits another criminal act during their two-year probation period, they are not eligible for release from prison after the second conviction.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @11:12PM (#41915239) Homepage

    If they can not be trusted than keep them in prison, end of story. None of this bullshit about trying to turn the whole country into a prison. It'll be one crime after another, for the non-rich, until traffic offenders end up being monitored. If the crime warrants life time monitoring then keep them in prison for a lifetime where they belong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @11:33PM (#41915341)

    No, no it really doesn't. Many states, mine included don't display level one offenders.

    Do you know how the level system works? Let me explain it to you.

    Level 1: Usually (but not always) completed treatment successfully, as well as passing multiple polygraphs and plethysmograph exams.
    Level 2: Moderate risk for re-offense.
    Level 3: High risk for re-offense.

    Some states even use civil commitment, and can hold an offender for an indefinite amount of time prior to release, well beyond what would be considered time severed.

    As I'm writing this a thought just occurred to me. Prop 35 is a measure of civil commitment without actually doing so. Hmmm...

    In any event, your notions of geeks clinging to fantasies of sex offenders are, frankly, repulsive. The recidivism rate among sex offenders is also nearly 1/4 of the standard recidivism rate of the criminal population as a whole.

  • by Fastolfe ( 1470 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @11:55PM (#41915457)

    I am all for increased punishments for those caught dealing with human trafficking

    Out of curiosity, why? Do you have some reason to believe the existing punishments are too lax? Were the changes enacted by the legislature recently insufficient?

    I'm usually deeply disgusted by every CA proposition that seeks to increase punishments for some group, using an appeal to emotion to justify it. Are the existing punishments really not enough? Why hasn't the legislature done anything about it? Is this actually a rational approach to solve a real problem, or is it just a political move that's expected to be a slam dunk, because hey, who wants to come out in favor of sex traffickers?

    I get the value of referenda and sometimes I'm proud that it works to accomplish something that the legislature can't or won't, but the tyranny of the majority is a very real threat, as is constitutional amendment via popularity contest, and sometimes I wonder if it shouldn't be harder for people to get their pet issues on the ballot like this.

  • by Fastolfe ( 1470 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:09AM (#41915521)

    It's not unreasonable for us to limit their access

    Are you somehow of the belief that the only group harmed by these reporting requirements are "intergenerational" child rapists?

    Do you think that someone that's on this registry that decides to seduce or rape a child is going to register the account they plan to use for that purpose with the police?

    or create more laws that they can be found in violation of

    Will we ever reach a point where we have enough laws or enough punishment for this class of criminal? If, every year, we enacted new, harsher punishments, and new laws that we can find these individuals in violation of, would we ever hit a point where you might decide it's time to stop? That's really the larger problem with propositions like this: who can come out against it without sounding like you're pro-child rape? Sometimes I hate how easy it is for people to get propositions on the California ballot.

  • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:17AM (#41915557)

    What we really want to do is ensure that serial rapists cannot use the internet as their predatory jungle

    Why are serial rapists running free to begin with?

  • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:25AM (#41915585)

    Our society places pedophiles in a special category because they compulsively attempt to lure children to them for purposes of illicit intergenerational sex.

    Not all pedophiles are child molesters. I'm not even sure if the majority of them are.

    It's not unreasonable for us to limit their access

    I think it is to people who actually care about freedom of speech.

    Instead of pretending that their rights are somehow linked to our own, let's accept that every society has an ultimate taboo and for us it's the child-rapists.

    I don't want to accept what I believe is illogical nonsense.

  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <rodrigogirao@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:33AM (#41915623) Homepage

    Sorry, but an individual under 18 is a CHILD.

    Stopped reading right there. If you think so, you are completely out of touch with reality.

  • A little context (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:20AM (#41915747)
    The Wired article doesn't provide it, and makes it sound like the proposition passed with an 81% Yes vote because people want to track registered sex offenders' Internet activity.

    The proposition was billed as the human trafficking and penalties initiative. Its main focus was on increasing penalties for those convicted of human trafficking (mostly kids and women into prostitution). That's why it passed with such a high percentage of Yes votes. The part about sex offenders' Internet activity was a single sentence [ca.gov] buried in the middle of the voter pamphlet's summary description, so probably was glazed over by most voters.

    I was baffled why something whose main provision seemed like such a no-brainer was even a proposition. It sounded like something the legislature should've been able to pass in 5 minutes. So I did a bit more research and dug up this article [time.com] explaining why it may not be very helpful, counter-intuitive as that seems. That's something you have to be careful of with these ballot propositions - if it sounds like a simple Yes vote, you need to ask yourself, "What's the catch? Why hasn't the legislature passed this already?"
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:28AM (#41915783)

    Why would this be a bigger problem than people having the same real name, which happens all the time?

    Because pedo-cops are over-zealous (and ineffective) and because most of the judicial system has not figured out the nuances of the internet yet.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:06AM (#41915933) Homepage Journal

    The main reason I object to these laws is that they are basically permanent punishment. The fundamental design of a functioning legal system is one of rehabilitation—once you've done your time, you become part of society again. Unfortunately, there are a few parts of our government that violate that design—disenfranchisement for convicted felons, sex offender registries, limits on where convicted sex offenders are allowed to live, and so on—by creating permanent or near-permanent punishments.

    Unfortunately, such policies are a big part of why the U.S. has such a staggeringly high recidivism rate. They serve as a constant reminder of what the criminal did—a constant reminder that they're not like the rest of society—which makes complete reintegration with society impossible, forcing them to live on the fringes of society. Every time somebody asks if they voted, they either have to lie or have a very awkward conversation. When somebody asks them to pick up their kids, same problem. And so on.

    Regardless of the type of crime, if you think someone is likely to reoffend, you shouldn't be letting them out, and if you don't, then you shouldn't be treating them like they're expected to reoffend, because doing so will significantly increase the odds that they will. That's basic psychology. Anyone who can't grasp that concept has absolutely no business setting any sort of policy on crime prevention. Unfortunately, most of the people setting policies on crime prevention don't understand that concept. And that's why crime in the U.S. is likely to keep getting worse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:44AM (#41916053)

    Sex offenders can come from all walks of life. Some, just as with other criminals, are otherwise fine people and fair candidates for rehabilitation but that is a distinction many people are incapable of making because: (a) they can only view criminals in terms of stereotypes; (b) any attempt to not view criminals in terms of stereotypes leads to cries of "going soft on crime", despite the fact that the prison itself is an abject failure; (c) sex offenders, especially child sex offenders, are the paranoia du jour and we jump at shadows as if on cue; (d) we have sadistic urges and enjoy seeing people punished - the Christian right especially likes to see sinners cast out from society it seems; (e) "sex offender" is a ridiculously broad term, so sweeping as to do great damage. It lumps someone who urinated in a public place in with murdering rapists - what a spectrum! - an injustice if ever there was one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:57AM (#41916101)

    Seriously I'll accept a sex offender registry for persons who prey on children (I will put the cap at 16, although if we were being honest about this, 13 is the better standard for paedophilia. And if you look at the historic reason for raising the age of consent from 13 to 18 (ignoring the original AoC) you'd note that it was TO STOP 'UNDERAGE' PROSTITUTION, not for any actual sensible reason regarding a persons age of maturity or sexual development.) But honestly, applying it indefinitely to 'streakers' 'teenagers sexting their likewise underage partners' and 'public urinators' makes me embarassed to be an american..

    But talking sense, which you are, doesn't seem to do anything with this issue. Sense is blocked out. If you talk like this at a party, otherwise intelligent people will look at you like you're a pedophile. Seriously, give it a try if you don't believe me. In this way dissent is silenced: "any critic of the definition of witch/communist/pedophile must be an apologist and probably is witch/communist/pedophile themselves".

  • by wdef ( 1050680 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:47AM (#41916295)

    And if a child sees a normal part of the human anatomy why should that be a crime? Because you don't like it. Don't try to tell me that the mere sight of a human penis will irreversibly damage a child. It's a sick society that demonizes a pat of the human body so successfully.

  • Re:Hrm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @04:09AM (#41916387)

    I thought one could avoid a statutory rape conviction by marrying before sex, and one could avoid a public urination conviction by claiming that draining oneself was "necessary as an emergency measure".

    Pretty much generally correct on the first one, not so much on the second.

    They don't consider pissing one's pants an emergency worthy of breaking the law. To add insult to injury, in many US cities it's become nearly impossible to find any public business, office, etc that allows anyone to use their bathrooms any longer, even paying customers.

    Next time you're stuck on an overcrowded bus, train, subway, etc and are forced to stand near some piss-soaked person, remember he/she may not have had a choice.

    One would think the public health hazards posed in a large and crowded city would indicate strongly against such laws, at least with such extreme and life-altering and permanent negative ramifications as punishment for something that really doesn't rise to the level of requiring such severity.

    I'm thinking more along the lines of a ticket-able minor infraction with fines ranging from $50 to $150 or more in areas where it's become more of an immediate sanitation/health problem. No need to go ruining somebody's entire life, fer chrissake!

    Talk about "cruel and unusual punishment"! Are we chopping off children's hands for shoplifting candy yet? Makes about as much sense. Oh, I forgot. We're only sending armed enforcement personnel to halt the threat to the public health (and licensing/permit income) posed by preteen lemonade stands at this point :-| Sheesh!


  • Re:Yeah right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 08, 2012 @08:57AM (#41917447) Journal

    You're missing the point friend, the point of these laws is NOT to actually get the info, its to give the cops an instant "throw him under the bus" button by simply saying "He didn't provide us with X, therefor he goes to the pen" and bye bye guy.

    Personally I'm getting really sick and damned tired of this "for the children" crap, because I was raised to believe you did your time and that was it, these laws are designed to punish a person for life without actually sentencing them to life. Bullshit, either give them life or when they are out STFU, what you are doing here is too damned close to Big Brother police state shit and we ALL need to stand up for these guys.

    Remember folks, they pass these laws by purposely picking the ones they KNOW you won't fight for, then the laws just get wider and wider, until they can use them on anybody. Big Brother and the Nanny State NEVER gets smaller, ONLY bigger, so we have to stand up now before they widen the net. As TFA points out it can be something that has NOTHING to do with children, it could be pissing on a damned bush in the wrong state, and you'll end up just like them.

  • Re:Yeah right... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Twanfox ( 185252 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @09:48AM (#41917717)

    This is basically how I see it too. While I'm on board with sexual offenses being some of the most violating forms of violence on others, it's being applied in places it doesn't belong, such as (without prior coercion) taking a nude picture of yourself should you be under age, at the most basic enforcement. Making the law ever stricter just ensures that you'll have a reason to compel compliance at best, and get the aggressor to live in fear.

    Reform (something our justice system SHOULD be focused on) shouldn't be about living in fear, it's should be about not wanting to commit the acts again and feeling remorse for the acts committed. If you go to the extreme and tag them for life, you give no incentive to behave and every incentive to commit crimes again. This ultimately does not help build a better society.

  • Re:Hrm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:25AM (#41918007)
    I can understand flashing your genitals at someone being considered a sexual offence (especially if your genitals are disgusting or "lack sufficient charm" ;) )

    But peeing in some bushes, intentionally hiding your genitals? As far as I know that's not a sexual offence everywhere, so in which places is it considered a sexual offence? And why would that be considered a _sexual_ offence? Which pervert made up such a law?

    It should probably still be an offence slightly more serious than "normal" littering (and less serious than shitting in public in improper locations- since you are more likely to spread parasites with shit than with urine).

    As for the nude pics stuff, teens being teens are sending each other nude pics. If they one day send you a nude pic of themselves why should YOU automatically be considered guilty of some crime? I can understand it if you send them a nude pic of yourself, but the way the laws are it seems that it works the other way round too.

    FWIW rape is illegal in most civilized countries, but if I happen to keep scantily clad pictures of attractive women it doesn't mean I'm going to rape them or would ever want to rape them (I find the idea of forcing a women to have sex with me rather unpleasant, abhorrent even- I'd prefer it if they find me irresistible). So do all pedophiles really want to rape children?

    I might fantasize about someone else's wife, doesn't mean I intend to actually have sex with her (adultery is a criminal offence in many countries too). You may consider thinking about it wrong, but should it still be considered a criminal offence?

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