Offline: Challenging Internet and Social Media Bans for Individuals on Supervision for Sex Offenses
43 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2019
Date Written: 2019
Tens of thousands of people across the United States are subject to bans on their Internet and social media access due to sex offense convictions. This Article explains why, even for those on parole and probation, such bans are frequently over-broad, imposed on the wrong people, and are now ripe for challenge in light of the Supreme Court’s 8-0 decision in Packingham v. North Carolina. The first flaw with these bans is their mismatch between crime and condition. They are imposed on individuals whose criminal records have no relation to online predatory activity or manipulation of minors. The second flaw is their extreme over-breadth. Rather than merely proscribing speech with minors or access to certain online forums, they cordon off the Internet itself, ostracizing offenders to an offline society. While these flaws rendered Internet and social media bans constitutionally problematic before the Packingham decision, the Supreme Court’s imprimatur on free speech for individuals convicted of sex offenses could — and should — lead the way to future legal challenges of these bans.
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