On August 1st, a new Louisiana law that requires sex offenders and child predators to declare their criminal status on social networking sites will go into effect. The law, which was introduced by Louisiana State Representative Jeff Thompson, introduces new online sex offender registration laws that are similar to the current offline laws:
“Sex offenders and child predators shall include in his profile for the networking website an indication that he is a sex offender or child predator and shall include notice of the crime for which he was convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of his physical characteristics…and his residential address.”
Although several prominent social networking sites have long-standing policies that prohibit sex offenders from using their social networks, this is the first enforceable law of its type in the nation. In the past, there were virtually no consequences for convicted criminals that chose to ignore the social networking sites’ policies. Now, even though sex offenders may disregard the new law, Thompson indicated that the law will allow the state to prosecute violators:
“This provides prosecutors with another tool to make sure that those people which intend harm to our children are going to face the consequences.”
If a convicted sex offender does not provide the required social network notification, they will be facing prosecution and a prison sentence of two to ten years.
Recently, a Louisiana state law that prohibited convicted sex offenders from using Facebook was overturned in court for being “unconstitutionally overbroad.” While support for a Louisiana law banning convicted sex offenders from using social media sites is strong, Thompson indicated that he does not believe such a law will ultimately stand the test of time:
“It may very well fall under scrutiny and attack. That’s one of the reasons that I created the bill I did. I’m not trying to create a ban. I’m just trying to create an expansion of the existing notice requirements.”
Do you feel that sex offenders and child predators should be allowed to use social media sites? If so, is the requirement to declare their criminal status appropriate?