A California proposition that passed overwhelmingly in the fall would have forced registered sex offenders to hand over a huge amount of information about their online lives. Now, that proposition has been put on hold because of a preliminary injunction from a San Francisco federal judge, who says that the new law is just too wide-ranging and could violate the constitutional rights of offenders.
The challenge to the law was filed the day after the election day by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU on behalf of two of California’s nearly 74,000 registered sex offenders. One was convicted in 1986 and the other in 1993, for unspecified offenses that aren’t related to the Internet in any way. The ACLU has noted that some people are registered offenders for very old, misdemeanor offenses such as indecent exposure and don’t warrant the kind of intense surveillance called for in Proposition 35.
The law would have required far-reaching surveillance of registered sex offenders. For instance, they would have had to disclose all of their online “identifiers,” including e-mail addresses, usernames for any online services, and social media monikers. It would have made anonymous online speech for that population essentially impossible.