Tag Archives: Sex Offenders

More Facebook tidbits around the country

Marty Dolan, principal at Dolan Law and his associate Karen Munoz represent victims of wrongful death and personal injury. His column “Law and Wellness,” appears in the Chicago Lawyer and her column appears regularly in the Law Bulletin. This week’s blog is written by Karen Munoz.

Apparently Louisiana enacted a law last year that denied convicted sex offenders access to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Not only were sex offenders banned but so were individuals convicted of indecent behavior with a juvenile, video voyeurism, computer-aided solicitation of minors and pornography involving juveniles. The law took effect last August and included an exception for use if allowed by court order. The ACLU on behalf of John Doe plaintiffs, immediately challenged the validity of the law. The argument was that the act barred sex offenders from browsing any website that allows users to create profiles about themselves or that has chat rooms, instant messaging and e-mail — sweeping in everything from news websites to job search sites.

A federal judge in the Middle District of Louisiana struck down the 6-month-old ban on First Amendment grounds.  The court stated the ban as enacted was an unreasonable restriction on constitutionally protected speech that could keep sex offenders, who were no longer under the jurisdiction of the department of corrections, off the Internet entirely. The court did leave open the possibility for passage of a ban more narrowly drafted stating” More focused restrictions that are narrowly tailored to address the specific conduct sought to be proscribed should be pursued.”

The state of Louisiana is planning to appeal, saying the court’s ruling sides with sexual predators.

This serves as a good example to other states that have begun or are intending to propose this same type of legislation. A challenge will likely be forthcoming on first amendment grounds and the act needs to be carefully drafted in order to pass constitutional muster.

I am certain we will be seeing a whole lot more legislation involving this in the coming months.

Online dating challenges

Marty Dolan, principal at Dolan Law and his associate Karen Munoz represent victims of wrongful death and personal injury. His column “Law and Wellness,” appears in the Chicago Lawyer and her column appears regularly in the Law Bulletin. This week’s blog is written by Karen Munoz.

The world of online dating is a different beast.  For someone who grew up in a world where computers were not a big part of my existence, I am frequently amazed at how much the Internet has revolutionized every part of my life in such a short time. One area where there has been significant change is the way we communicate, meet each other, and find dates.

For those of you out there in the dating world, or have friends who are, then you are no stranger to its inner workings.  You pick a site, match.com, eharmony or any number of cousin sites and you sign up. You start a profile and pick a user name. Now most people don’t actually use their real name, and instead create a name similar to what you would use in an e-mail. Facebook this is not.  You control the amount of information you want others to know about you and the same goes with photographs or other user details on your profile.

Due to the potential for criminal activity and a number of pretty terrible incidents in the last few years in Illinois, lawmakers have proposed legislation which would require online dating websites to tell customers if criminal background checks are done prior to signing up.

Overall, I think it is a good idea but I don’t think it solves the ultimate problem.  The legislation would also not prevent users from flat out lying to other users, or exaggerating aspects of their lives to make them more attractive dates.

I’m also not sure how it will affect the bottom line of sites that do not charge users of the dating site, as effective criminal background checks may be costly.  Match.com and eharmony screen public sex offender registries and that method I am sure has prevented individuals who may be a danger from signing up. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and affects other aspects of our communications online. In the end, the dating world can be scary in more ways than one, but being aware and using good common sense goes a long way.