Many states have laws intended to limit predators' ability to use the Internet to victimize children. Indiana's has the American Civil Liberties Union upset. The Hoosier State bans registered sex offenders from accessing popular online social networking sites such as Facebook.
Insisting the law unconstitutionally limits sex offenders' rights, the ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn it. But in mid-June, a federal judge upheld the state. Judge Tanya Pratt wrote in her ruling that, "Social networking, chat rooms, and instant messaging programs have effectively created a 'virtual playground' for sexual predators to lurk." Her decision was that it is entirely reasonable for the state to attempt to keep threats out of that "playground."
ACLU officials have said they will appeal Judge Pratt's ruling to a federal appeals court in Chicago.
There, judges will note that virtually every right guaranteed to Americans by the Constitution has certain limits. For example, the First Amendment cannot be used in an intentional attempt to cause harm to others.
Indiana's law does not prohibit all use of the Internet by convicted sex offenders. Only websites that allow access by children are affected - and the appeals court should rule the ban is a reasonable restriction.