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Supreme Court Rules Sex Offenders Can't Be Barred From Social Media (gizmodo.com) 114

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: In a unanimous decision today, the Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law that prevents sex offenders from posting on social media where children might be present, saying it "impermissibly restricts lawful speech." In doing so, the Supreme Court asserted what we all know to be true: Posting is essential to the survival of the republic. The court ruled that to "foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights." The court correctly noted that "one of the most important places to exchange views is cyberspace." The North Carolina law was ruled to be overly broad, barring "access to what for many are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge."
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Supreme Court Rules Sex Offenders Can't Be Barred From Social Media

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  • Bummer (Score:1, Troll)

    So I guess half of the people here are still able to post.
  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday June 19, 2017 @06:11PM (#54650779)

    Right now, some politicians are planning how best they can pass a new law that will do exactly the same, but be just different enough that it can be tied up in court for a few years before being struck down.

    Sex offenders are perhaps the most reviled people in the US. Any law which causes them difficulty is an easy pass with overwhelming public support.

    • by Slugster ( 635830 ) on Monday June 19, 2017 @06:57PM (#54651003)
      In the US--pursuing child molesters is the last bastion of the bureaucratic tyrant. No right is beyond revoke and no punishment too severe to stand in the way of "protecting the children".

      My local police (like many in the US) has a special web page showing convicted sex offenders.
      There is no page showing convicted murderers; somehow the normal public record of that was enough...
      What's wrong with this picture?...
      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday June 19, 2017 @07:10PM (#54651069)

        My local police (like many in the US) has a special web page showing convicted sex offenders.

        My neighbor is on the list ... for having sex with his wife. At the time, he was 18 and she was 15. Her parents disapproved and called the police to break up the relationship. He got probation, but still went on the list for life. They were married on her 18th birthday. Her parents didn't come to the wedding.

        Because he is a "child molestor" he cannot go to PTA meetings, parent-teacher conferences, or even step foot in a school.

        Their son is my son's best friend. Do I worry about him playing at their house? Of course not.

        I am not sure if the sex offender list is a good or bad idea in principle, but the way it is actually implemented is idiotic.

        • by ArylAkamov ( 4036877 ) on Monday June 19, 2017 @08:58PM (#54651449)

          There is no shortage of stories like this. What I find personally enraging is when minors and children are added to the list.

          http://www.businessinsider.com... [businessinsider.com]

          The teenager was listed as both the victim and the perpetrator on the sexual exploitation charges.

          http://www.thedailybeast.com/t... [thedailybeast.com]

          North Carolina authorities arrested a 16-year-old girl in February for committing two felony sex crimes against herself when she sent a nude photo to her boyfriend

          I think the worst one I remember reading about was two 11 year old girls added to the list. Political biases of the links above aside (Not that there is any shortage of similar stories if you search) I think we can all agree this is fucking stupid.

          • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Monday June 19, 2017 @09:08PM (#54651499)
            I've always loved the mental gymnastics that the government does when they charge children as adults for child pornography when they share naked pictures if themselves.
          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            This reminds me of when suicide was illegal. If someone survived a suicide attempt they would be charged with a crime against themselves and sent to jail.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              In many areas suicide is still illegal. The cynic in me says it's mostly because if you commit a felony, the state can legally seize your assets. Making it a felony, not only do they get your stuff, but conveniently there isn't anyone around to argue.

            • I think successful suicide should be a capital offense.

        • Was about to write something similar, regarding 'idiotic' laws in the US.
          In Europe in most countries we have also a bit arbitrary laws regarding that. In Germany it is more or less like this: both partners need to be above 14 (which is actually also the legal age for marriage if both sides parents agree), if one partner is 21 or above, the other one needs to be 16 at least. Of course prostitution is forbidden for people below 18.

          The idea that you can only have sex when you are over 18 (as in many US states)

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        In the US--pursuing child molesters is the last bastion of the bureaucratic tyrant. No right is beyond revoke and no punishment too severe to stand in the way of "protecting the children".

        Another reason this is asinine: treat someone as if they were (still) guilty of something long enough, and they might just decide to hell with it, they might as well be guilty of something. Which is just a brilliant position to put a sex offender into.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Well, probably the thing is that murders are just humans having made a mistake, while sex offenders clearly are monsters that will rape, pillage and murder...oh, wait.

      • by guises ( 2423402 )
        There's some rhetoric floating around making the claim that the majority of people who have committed sexual crimes are that way by nature. In other words: the sex offender label is an inseparable part of their character, rather than just a description of something which they did in their past.

        If you watch this lecture [youtube.com] by David Lisak, for example, while he exudes rigor and professionalism, he does seem to hold to this viewpoint and does his best to defend it. The only qualifier in that lecture is a sing
    • Sex offenders are perhaps the most reviled people in the US. Any law which causes them difficulty is an easy pass with overwhelming public support.

      Actually, politicians are the most reviled people in the US and it's damn near impossible to get any law to limit them in spite of overwhelming public support. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Look for numerous unanimous decisions like this going forward. This guy is going to make SCOTUS great again with his consensus building activities. I bet he could talk Justice Alito into voting for installing a transgender bathroom in the building.

    • I bet he could talk Justice Alito into voting for installing a transgender bathroom in the building.

      assuming classical party-lines, Republicans would have no issue with a 'Trans-specific' bathroom, it would be liberals that would find it offensive.

      As a reminder, the issue that this country obsessed about an embarrassingly long time was with the requirement that transgender individuals to use bathrooms that conform with what's between their legs...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Really, the issue was how rural NC and Charlotte were at odds over how tax revenue should be distributed to rural counties and urban municipalities and how much power Charlotte should have vs. the state legislature in Raleigh. Transgenders just happened to be a convenient battleground, but it was a power struggle between Charlotte and Raleigh, not between Democrats and Republicans. If you read the coverage of the compromise (see NPR on it [npr.org]), you'll find that the state won by imposing a moratorium on any mu

      • I bet he could talk Justice Alito into voting for installing a transgender bathroom in the building.

        assuming classical party-lines, Republicans would have no issue with a 'Trans-specific' bathroom, it would be liberals that would find it offensive.

        As a reminder, the issue that this country obsessed about an embarrassingly long time was with the requirement that transgender individuals to use bathrooms that conform with what's between their legs...

        Bathrooms don't have to be gender specific. Like in almost every bathroom in every residential house or apartment everywhere.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Republicans wouldn't have an issue with spending public money on someone's "lifestyle choice"? What about when they realize you need three extra bathrooms, one for trans men, one for trans women and one for gender non-conforming individuals?

    • Look for numerous unanimous decisions like this going forward. This guy is going to make SCOTUS great again with his consensus building activities. I bet he could talk Justice Alito into voting for installing a transgender bathroom in the building.

      I rather think that Ruth Bader Ginsburg would hold her own in that discussion.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Only if there are enough bathroom breaks. Well unless she switched to Depends. Then maybe she could hold her own.

    • From ruling: "GORSUCH, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case."
  • Makes one feel better about this country.

    Pity so many people think have so much evil in their heart and the desire to blame it on someone that society considers an acceptable victim (sex offenders).

    When you want to know someone's deepest, darkest, thoughts, ask them to describe their enemy.

    Ask an innocent child to do this and they talk about someone stealing toys. Ask an alt-right person and they talk about other races secretly taking over the world.

  • Something narrower- say making it illegal for them to send direct or group messages to a minor, or to make friend requests/add them to groups would seem to be a reasonable law. Barring them altogether prevents them from interactions with adults. And then we get into the whole question of what counts as social media (would a website with a forum be social media? The comments page on a newspaper article? Again this could be very broad).

    • To be enforced how? How many teens or or-teens gave their real age when they signed up to Facebook, twitter, etc?

      • Teens or Pre-teens

      • I have a funny story for that.
        Inwas camping in france with a group of friends and French guy with a 4 or 5 year old daughter joined us (married to a maroccean lady).
        The girl wanted to use my iPad to go on facebook.
        She only had grandmas and grand dads as friends and her profile picture was not herself (don't remember what it was), surprisingly she spoke english, too. Anyway when I looked a bit questioing what she does on my iPad on Facebook she said: "you know, we can put our real age into facebook. That wou

    • It's a blanket ban on people who have served their time for their crimes, most often minor offences that got them put onto a list. I have no problems with such provisions being put onto bail or parole for specific persons but not on people who have already served their sentence. These can be places on people who sent a nude selfie or urinated in public just as easily as committed rape.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      How about a minors only internet, running on an separate encrypted protocol. Minors gain access via a student card and teachers and authorised authorities gain access via educators cards and all unlicensed adults are forbidden under threat of criminal penalty. Safe and sure, reason it will not happen, psychopathic marketing companies would no longer be allowed to psychologically target, attack and manipulate children to feed the psychopathic greed of corporate executives.

      There should be two internet separa

  • by kenh ( 9056 )

    Dodged a bullet with that decision...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 19, 2017 @06:58PM (#54651013)
    As a formerly registered "sex offender" (I plead out because they found a nasty loophole in the law that forced me to make a shitty choice) I have turned a very attentive ear to these issues for a very long time. Ever since the 90s the internet has become an extension of the in-person world and "social media" has become a major component of participation in society at large. These laws that ban sex offenders from social media effectively ban them from society and participation in it, greatly increasing the risk of new crimes. Sex offender laws need to be clawed back. Registration needs to be completely discarded; it has no value when objectively examined over the 25+ years that it has existed and causes more harm than good across the board.

    The best way to reform convicts that are not heavily mentally unbalanced (most offenders are one-time offenders and don't go on to have a long rap sheet, after all!) is to help them build social safety nets and positive relationships. To do something other than pursue those specific goals is to intentionally harm society at large.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Absolutely agree. If you are a danger to society, you belong in jail. If you have served your time, or didn't get time - you don't belong on a list.

    • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@@@poetic...com> on Monday June 19, 2017 @10:29PM (#54651779)

      A good friend is on the list. Where I live, anyone can look him up by name or location online. There you will see his photo, current address and a brief description of his 'crime'. Of course he has to keep this data up to date at all times.

      "sex offender" seems to be a euphemism for something involving children. I don't think regular rape gets you on the list. Children are special, of course. My friend, during difficulties with his wife, was accused by her of 'touching' their daughter- age around 10. He was convicted without much fuss and put on the 'list'.

      The reality is that his wife lied. He was and still is best friends with his daughter- now a young adult and they frequently spend time together. But he remains on the list and there seems no way for him to get off. For the rest of his life he will be branded, in public, and all his neighbors will suspect him if not worse.

      • by guises ( 2423402 )

        I don't think regular rape gets you on the list.

        In the US it varies by state, but no: there's a whole host of things which can get you registered as a sex offender. When I lived in Louisiana I had a neighbor who was registered as a sex offender - the description on the card that he had to give to people was that he had "committed a crime against nature." In reality, he had paid a prostitute for oral sex. No children involved.

      • Awhile back, I got free ID protection due to a breech, and one of their services was to notify me whenever someone on the sex offender list moved into the area. I was always getting those notifications, and I wondered how many of those were cases like your friend, or an 18-15 romance, or even someone taking a whiz behind the bush.

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        I don't think regular rape gets you on the list.

        I suspect it does, given what else can..
        http://www.businessinsider.com... [businessinsider.com]

    • These laws that ban sex offenders from social media effectively ban them from society and participation in it.....

      That is so much bullshit. I agree with this ruling, but stupid hyperbole like this really doesn't make a good case for why this law needed to be struck down. This is about the only social media I engage with. And even then it's not really often. I am not banned from society. In fact, the reason I'm not really on social media is because I'm way too fucking busy for that. And no, I'm not in mom's basement. I'm flying around the country on business. I'm doing shit in my community.

      Anyone who thinks th

  • Sex offenders on social media will make them easier to track.

    • Dateline has exactly zero trouble enticing otherwise upstanding citizens to date a 15 year old... over and over again

      They run the same honeypot trap around where we live a couple of times a year on social media with no shortage of arrests at the end of the investigation.

      If you're looking for something illegal on the internet, try to remember that law enforcement is, too, and their budget & experience likely top yours.

      • No shortage of arrests. But what about convictions? The "To Catch A Predator" series is a farce. Some of the things are outright faked, some of them are complete and obvious miscarriages of justice (such as when as producers are running the "investigation" and not the cops), and otherwise they often fail to get convictions because no actual crime is committed - the person they're communicating with from the "Perverted Justice" (very apt name, by the way) and planning to meet is not an actual minor, but

        • DA's refusal to prosecute many of the cases illustrates your point.

          To Catch A Predator [nyu.edu] is a ratings gambit much like the Dateline shows that catch contractors scamming the public. [youtube.com]

          Nonetheless, the format clearly catches the entrapped in situations that might be uncomfortable to explain.

  • I thought the terms of service for many social media sites state people under a certain age are not allowed to use those services.

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