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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Federal judge Pratt upholds Indiana's Facebook ban for sex offenders

Updating several entries from last month on "Sex offenders fight for right to use Facebook" (see most recent here, from May 31st), Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on Friday issued her ruling in the case of John Doe v. City of Indianapolis.

Charles Wilson of the AP has the story this evening, headed "Judge upholds Indiana's Facebook ban for sex offenders." From the long story:

On Friday, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said in an 18-page order that the state has a strong interest in protecting children and that the rest of the Internet remains open to those who have been convicted.

"Social networking, chat rooms, and instant messaging programs have effectively created a 'virtual playground' for sexual predators to lurk," Pratt wrote in the ruling, citing a 2006 report by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that found that one in seven youths had received online sexual solicitations and one in three had been exposed to unwanted sexual material online. * * *

Courts have long allowed states to place restrictions on convicted sex offenders who have completed their sentences, controlling where many live and work and requiring them to register with police. But the ACLU claimed that that Indiana's social networking ban was far broader, restricting a wide swath of constitutionally protected activities.

The ACLU contended that even though the 2008 law is only intended to protect children from online sexual predators, social media are virtually indispensable and the ban prevents sex offenders from using the websites for political, business and religious activities.

But Pratt found that the ban is limited only to social networking sites that allow access by children, and that such sites aren't the only forms of communication on the Internet.

"The Court readily concedes that social networking is a prominent feature of modern-day society; however, communication does not begin with a "Facebook wall post" and end with a "140-character Tweet," she wrote.

Here is a copy of the 18-page 6/22/12 opinion in Doe v. Prosecutor. And here is a copy of the 1-17-12 complaint.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 24, 2012 06:50 PM
Posted to Ind Fed D.Ct. Decisions