First Amendment Challenge to CA's New Sex-Offender Rule
Ballot measure severely restricts Internet use for registered sex offenders, no matter how dubious their designation
San Francisco—Today the ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a federal class-action lawsuit to block implementation of unconstitutional provisions of Proposition 35 – a ballot measure passed by California voters Tuesday that restricts the legal and constitutionally protected speech of all registered sex offenders in California.
Proposition 35 requires anyone who is a registered sex offender – even people with decades-old, low-level offenses like misdemeanor indecent exposure and people whose offenses were not related to the Internet – to turn over a list of all their Internet identifiers and service providers to law enforcement. While the law is written very unclearly, this likely includes email addresses, usernames and other identifiers used for online political discussion groups, book and restaurant review sites, forums about medical conditions, and newspaper or blog comments. Under the law, more than 73,000 Californians must immediately provide this information to law enforcement, and must report any new account or screen name within 24 hours of setting it up, even if the new screen name is their own real name. Violations can result in years in prison.