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Sex Offender Internet Restrictions

The United States Supreme Court today (June 2017) in Packingham v North Carolina addressed a North Carolina law which makes it a felony for a registered sex offender to access a commercial social networking website where the sex offender knows that the site permits minor children to become members or create and maintain person web pages. Mr. Packingham accessed the internet to post a statement on his personal facebook profile about a positive experience in traffic court. He was indicted then and convicted of the felony of accessing an internet website.

The Supreme Court reversed the conviction and held that the North Carolina statute impermissibly restricted his lawful speech in violation of his First Amendment rights. Obviously the purpose of a such a statute is to restrict sex offenders from accessing sites where they might influence minors. For the defendant in this case just to access the internet to post his personal satisfaction about his experience in traffic court, is an overly broad interpretation of the statute as to him and does not comply with the First Amendment.