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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 @09:36PM (#41914613)

    Like they could ever enforce this...

    Sent from a registered sex offender

    • I have to agree with this... It is like asking someone to remember their passphrase or where they stored the hidden safe.
      Oops forgot.
      The problem with a lot of these laws is that they overestimate the infallibility of the mind to remember things it doesn't want to remember, and makes harsh punishments for people who are so handicapped or actually don't have the information in the first place.
      Those that are actually hiding something will cough up something plausible and get away scott free.

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

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> 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:Yeah right... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lord Byron II ( 671689 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @10:24PM (#41914957)

      It has about the same odds as getting the /. editor to include the state for which this law actually applies in the summary. (It's California in this case.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Hey c'mon, there's about 3290 propositions passed globally every year, and only 10 of those aren't from California. Is it really necessary to still preface these things?

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

      by jcr ( 53032 ) <> 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.


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

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @11:31PM (#41915335)

        Every charge sticks unless you can afford to go to trial. Unless you've been wronged by the police before it's pretty hard to have a grip on just how fucked the system is.

        Nowadays they can arrest you, make up some false charges... then your in the system and you have to defend yourself with whatever limited resources you have. It's total bullshit and they don't have to ever deal with it again unless you go to trial. Which most people can't and will not. Plea bargains look pretty tasty when your life is in unknown hands and your only form of communication is a telephone that is very restricted.

  • Hrm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This law seems open to abuse. What rate limiting system does it use? I use a ton of different nicks in my line of work and I tend to change them multiple times per day.

    • Re:Hrm (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @10:16PM (#41914911)

      Ah, so you are the shill that keeps creating new accounts here?

  • 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!

    • A potential solution on other sites would be shared accounts or the anonymous coward option. Even if you let government know, if enough people are using the account it becomes meaningless.

      Tor is also fun.

    • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:51AM (#41916081)

      That's the point and that is the long-game being played, here.

      Ultimately, "for the children", they will enforce use of real identities for all individuals on the internet. At the very least, there will have to be a registered real identity that is easily referenced for anyone in "authority" without need for a warrant. Ideally (in their mind), your real identity will simply be all you have to act under while online, presented to everyone.

      If "bullies durp durp durp" doesn't do it, then "sex offenders durp durp durp!".

      Not to mention, if we're so afraid of these people that we have to put scarlet A's on their doors and mailboxes, have then register every activity and location and method of contact on earth, etc, etc... then why the fuck are we even letting them out of prison, in the first place? Either someone has served the time for their crime and has been determined safe to re-enter society or they aren't. (Probation, yadda yadda).

  • by Bobfrankly1 ( 1043848 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:41PM (#41914661)
    Username: Anonymous Coward
    • by nzac ( 1822298 )

      This raises the issue of people with usernames in common.
      There will be people who (accidentally or intentionally) share a usernames with those reported by sex offenders who will now be monitored.
      It would be trivial and impossible to prove it was intentional to get a name on that list so at least in the short term someone can be treated as a sex offender.

  • 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 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 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.
      • most people probably couldn't be reasonably expected to remember every fake alias they've ever created.

        So don't, use bugmenot [] instead.

        • by deimtee ( 762122 )
          Bugmenot supplies you with a userid/password combo. You will have to supply that in your list, and then become linked to every other use of that ID.
        • I used to advocate that service too, but these days I have trouble finding a working login for the sites that I don't want to hand over my details to.

          I can't give you any examples, just in case you ask. So take this as anecdotal. However, I stand by my comment. In the last 2-3 years I've found it 90% non working.

          A good idea, but IP logging defeats it too easily. Or whatever it is sites use.
    • Re:EFF has it right. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by corychristison ( 951993 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @10:07PM (#41914859)

      A childhood friend of my wife with mental disabilities (I don't know exactly what it was, I'm going off memory from what my wife told me a few years ago) who cant distinguish right from wrong, exposed himself to girls in his group home when he was a teenager is a registered sex offender.

      This is a person who was virtually forced out of his home by his parents because they didn't want to deal with his illness anymore, and stuffed into a group home when he was prepubescent... a few years later mix in hormones, possibly interfering medications and a brain that doesn't quite process things right and all of a sudden he's a registered sex offender. He now can't be within a certain distance from schools and has to walk on eggshells while dealing with a mental disorder.

      The whole sex offender system is useless without proper investigation or classification.

    • by dbet ( 1607261 )

      Nowadays a lot of people are classified as sex offenders that shouldn't be

      Yes, ALL OF THEM.

  • ACLU press release (Score:5, Informative)

    by kd6ttl ( 1016559 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:50PM (#41914731) []

    It's really not a good law - it won't accomplish its goal and it has lots of bad possible side effects.

  • The law also states that the sex offenders must pinky promise not to make any new usernames or online aliases, or else!

    This is a ridiculous law that can never be fully enforced and won't work the way people think it will. What the hell are they even trying to accomplish with it?

    • That's one issue that can't be enforced.

      OTOH what is stopping a sex offender from going to Facebook and registering myself as, say, Samzenpus? And then registering Samzenpus as one of their current and active aliases? Now that's going to be fun. Suddenly everyone on the Internet is a registered sex offender. Though that may also be the best way to render such a law completely ineffective.

  • 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 Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @10:23PM (#41914947)
    The real problem here isn't the increased loss of freedom for sex offenders. I personally could give a shit less about them. The real problem is the ever increasing creep of the term "Sex offender" Lets be clear, when you say "Sex offender" Most reasonable people would think that meant someone that had had some kind of sexual contact with a CHILD (not a teenager) or had committed actual physical rape. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people labeled as sex offenders by the courts these days are people that got busted when they were 19 for having a 16yr old girl/boyfriend... or were even the same age as their teenage partner but texted pictures of her boobs to their friends. Should they be punished for this stuff? Yes... labeled a sex offender for the rest of their lives? Fuck no. "statutory rape" is not fucking rape. Stop treating it like it is. It degrades the term "RAPE" and trivializes the true victims of this horrible crime. Should some 25yr old looser that nails a 16yr old at a party go to jail for it? YES... but rape? come on. There's plenty of grey area here, and I'm sure we could argue about a lot of it. But there's plenty that's not in a grey area, and destroying someones life over a stupid mistake they made when they were barely out of highschool is detrimental to everyone involved. Including the victim.
    • The real problem here isn't the increased loss of freedom for sex offenders. I personally could give a shit less about them. The real problem is the ever increasing creep of the term "Sex offender"

      So wait... You can't give a shit about sec offenders... BUT you have a problem with the creep of the term? So YOU do care about being who are label "sex offenders?"
      The article indicates there are 73K sex offenders. That is about 1 for every 300 adults in CA!

  • As a social conservative who appreciates the damage done by sex offenses and as a pragmatist who recognizes the liklihood of recidivism, I find the concept of sex offender registries appealing. The problem is that sex offense laws have been turned on their head. The Judaic Law (I am Catholic) tolerated teen fornication provided the couple got married afterward, yet in the U.S. an 18-year-old having sex with a 16-year-old is considered rape. On the opposite end of the criminalization spectrum, adultery --

    • - the topic of two of the ten commandments -- has been completely decriminalized in most states!

      Good. If the sole reason for a law existing is religion, it should be decriminalised.

      Would you like to travel back in time 550 years when Queens were beheaded for accusations of adultery?
      Why not go back to the times of the Roman Empire, when a husband was allowed to murder his wife if she cheated on him.

      • - the topic of two of the ten commandments -- has been completely decriminalized in most states!

        Good. If the sole reason for a law existing is religion, it should be decriminalised. Would you like to travel back in time 550 years when Queens were beheaded for accusations of adultery? Why not go back to the times of the Roman Empire, when a husband was allowed to murder his wife if she cheated on him.

        And you completely forgot the (Christian Biblical? Muslim? I can't remember) Official Divorce proceedings where a husband tells his wife "I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you" and that's it.

    • by xenobyte ( 446878 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:41AM (#41916273)

      The Judaic Law (I am Catholic) tolerated teen fornication provided the couple got married afterward, yet in the U.S. an 18-year-old having sex with a 16-year-old is considered rape.

      Unless both is famous... Justin Bieber was 16 and Selena Gomez 18 when they were papped making out (just tongue kissing but still). Both are California residents and it happened in California, whose statutory rape law clearly make this illegal (misdemeanor fine), yet no charges were ever filed as far as I know.

    • ...adultery -- the topic of two of the ten commandments -- has been completely decriminalized in most states... Moses' time adultery took place *only* if the woman was married, which is why there's a second commandment (men always requiring clarification).

      The number of concubines King David had when he moved into the House of Jerusalem is noted....


  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @11:10PM (#41915221)
    There is over 100,000 registered sex offenders in California. Thats about 0.3%. That's higher than the entire USA, which is about 0.2%. 1 in 400 Americans are registered sex offenders.
  • by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @11:39PM (#41915363) Homepage

    ...or at least create an unmanageable amount of work for the data-entry bureaucrats: Create a "catch-all" email address, i.e., [anything] goes to you. This is trivial to do with Postfix. Then make up a list of thousands---or millions---of email addresses and submit that to them. Making the list is of course trivial with a simple Perl script. Also ensure there are a few specific addresses at the domain that go to someone else, such that the bureaucrats can't simply add "[anything]" to the registry. (If they do do that, they'd be adding the email address of an innocent third party, which could result in another interesting lawsuit all by itself.)

    If any RSOs in California are interested in doing this, contact me (jraxis -@- I'll set you up a catch-all at one of my domains and generate you a list of a few million random addresses at that domain.

  • It wasn't hard to predict that idiot voters would approve this proposition and that it would then promptly be challenged in court as unconstitutional. I told a friend just that days ago, and look what happened. The same idiots believed the "arguments against" lies about Prop 33 and voted against that one, too. I really hoped that one would pass, as I've been stung by the perverse loyalty restriction in old Prop 103 twice now when I switched insurers.

  • If it were me, they'd have a freaking book! Our list of logins and passwords at work as size 12 Arial and 2 full pages and I recall thinking that I have about 8x that many, lol. Oh, and all mine are much, much, much stupider. I'm | bøøp r nøsè in one game and yes, that's how I spelled it, lol.
  • Read decision "Columbia Insurance Company v., et al." (1999) of the US District Court in the Northern District of California: "People are permitted to interact pseudonymously and anonymously with each other so long as those acts are not in violation of the law." [] It can't be presumed that they are going to break the law just because they are using the fictitious name and have some criminal history.
  • It seems like we hear or read about a law proposal with incredulous consequences nearly everyday.

    The incredible lack of forethought and even rudimentary logic is beyond my comprehension.

    Do they even think about the problem beyond pandering to a misguided vocal minority? Do they even think about the innocent people it will catch in its wake? Do they even think AT ALL??

    Maybe I'm just naive to think that they actually care about anyone outside of their rich cronies club.

  • by FoolishOwl ( 1698506 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:16AM (#41915555) Journal

    In the last few years, some major social media service providers have been pushing for "real names" policies. Most notably, Google has been doing this. This has been a big controversy with Google+. Google's plan with Google+ was to use it as the basis for an identity authentication system. Part of the privacy threat I see with Prop 35 is that social media services will use it as an excuse to enforce "real names" policies, claiming that it's just too difficult to check whether a pseudonym is a new alias for a registered sex offender, so no one should be allowed to use pseudonyms. That would be a significant blow to free speech on the Internet.

  • by Penurious Penguin ( 2687307 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:41AM (#41915649) Journal
    I can think of two examples illustrating problems with such laws.
    1. Urinating in public can, in 13 states, qualify as a sex offense, through charges such as "indecent exposure", etc. A few links mentioning this issue can be viewed here: [] [] []
    2. Certain interactions with a prostitute can also qualify for sex offense.
    Number 1 is certainly more common, and is something nearly any good beer-drinking mammal has been guilty of. Number 2, although less common, is rather questionable. Why questionable? Figure that out yourself. But if it is to be such a grievous offense in the the U.S., it would seem appropriate to prevent U.S. citizens from traveling to nations where such an atrocious offense is legal, such as Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey(?) and others. And certainly anyone doing business with such perverted nations should be registered and arrested as accomplices, because anyone with scruples would take the support of such offenses just as seriously as we take pissing on bushes here -- no dubya pun intended.
    • An interesting (and amusing) excerpt from wikiland []:

      At one time in the UK, it was legal for a man to urinate in public, so long as it occurred on the rear wheel of his vehicle and he had his right hand on the vehicle. The laws allowing this were the Hackney Carriage Laws, which were repealed in 1976.[35] Public urination still remains more accepted by males in the UK, although British cultural tradition itself seems to find such practices objectionable.

      I guess when wanking became ambidextrous, they nixed that one.

  • 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 [] 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 [] 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?"
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually the issue is way more complex than you suggest.

      for a little more context.

      "Californians will vote in November on Proposition 35 — a bill that would increase fines and prison sentences for convicted human traffickers. While the desire to fight human trafficking seems uncontroversial, the bill itself is rife with problems and penned in poorly defined terms.

      Writing in the Guardian Wednesday, writer and sex worker advocate Melissa Gira Grant points out the dangerous but all too common conflation o

  • Just imagine if you could accidentally use the same alias as someone on the sex offenders list!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In some states a man (and laws ecxlude women) can be put on the Sex Offenders list for simply taking a leak in public.

    Imagine this, you are driving along a highway miles from anywhere and nature calls. You stop beside the road and answer the call of nature. When you return to your vehicle there is a police car parked behind yours.

    "Yes officer I was answering the call of nature"

    Boom, you are in the back of the police car and there goes your life. Chaged with being a sex offender simple for answering the call

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