Internet Law

Facebook ban for sex offenders is overturned by 7th Circuit

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A federal appeals court has overturned an Indiana law that bars most registered sex offenders from using social media that is accessed by minors.

The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law “broadly prohibits substantial protected speech rather than specifically targeting the evil of improper communications to minors,” report the Indianapolis Star and the National Law Journal. The court ruled (PDF) on Wednesday.

The law bars certain sex offenders from using social networking sites, instant messaging services and chat programs if they know minors are also allowed access. Facebook and Twitter are among the social media that are off limits to sex offenders under the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union represented a John Doe plaintiff who had been convicted of child exploitation in the class action suit challenging the Indiana law.

ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk told the Indianapolis Star that the social media ban was overly broad. “It would even bar someone who was convicted 40 years ago from participating in a Twitter feed with the Pope,” he said.

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