Sunday, June 28, 2009

Congressional Rep Wants To Put Internet Trolls In Jail

View the article here


Last year, the lawsuit against Lori Drew got plenty of attention. It involved the sad story of a girl, Megan Meier, who ended up killing herself after a "friend" she met on MySpace ended their friendship in a rather rude fashion. It later turned out that the "friend" wasn't a real person, but a made up individual, created by a former friend of the girl, that girl's mother (Lori) and an employee of Lori created the person (they claim) as a way of finding out what Meghan was saying about Lori's daughter. The whole story is quite sad, obviously, and suggests incredibly poor judgment on Lori's part. However, was it illegal? The initial analysis was not at all. However, prosecutors then twisted computer hacking laws to charge her, and she was eventually found guilty of misdemeanor computer hacking for creating a fake person on MySpace. This ruling was troubling for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it's now quite easy to make anyone a criminal via terms of service. Also, the fact that it actually is likely to put more kids at risk.

That particular case was distorted by a few issues, involving the fact that Lori was an adult while Meghan was a child. If the MySpace friend "Josh" had been a real teen, would the same outrage have happened? I had a friend in high school kill himself after his girlfriend dumped him. Should she have been charged with a crime?

However, with emotional cases, come bad legal precedents and bad laws. Missouri (where this happened) already rushed through an "online harassment" law, and now it looks like we may get the federal equivalent. Rep. Linda Sanchez has introduced a cyberbullying law (named after Meier) that could put people in jail for up to two years for online communications "with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person... to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior."
- Good, maybe this will become a federal law, and the vigilante geeks will be put into jail/prison for their online harassment.  I've emailed her for my support of the bill.

Yes, this effectively makes online trolling a crime. It's difficult to see how this gets past even the most basic First Amendment review, but that won't stop politicians from grandstanding over it.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

IA - Sex offenders look forward to end of exile

View the article here

Finally people are thinking.  This is good news for those in Iowa!


By Adam Belz

CEDAR RAPIDS — _____’s exile will soon be over.

For three years, the convicted sex offender has been living in a room at the Ced-Rel Motel on Highway 30. The low, red-and-white building 4 miles west of Cedar Rapids has become a haven for those convicted of sex crimes in the years since the Iowa Sex Offender Registry was established in 1995.

Iowa law, until July 1, forbids sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day-care center. The rule pushes them into remote places like the Ced-Rel, or campgrounds, rest areas and truck stops.

New legislation, which goes into effect on Wednesday, eliminates the 2,000-foot residency rule for all but violent offenders.

Of the 4,200 convicted sex offenders in Iowa whose victims were minors, more than 3,000 will be free to live in neighborhoods that until now have been off limits.

The majority of them are going to live wherever they want to,” said Joe Motsinger, a special agent in charge of the sex offender registry for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

_____, 30, who was convicted of indecent contact with a child in 2006 and wears an ankle bracelet so police can track him, will be allowed to move back to Cedar Rapids.

I know I’m moving,” he said. “As soon as I figure out what’s what, and what the rules are.”

_____ has no car. He lives with his mother, and she drives him to the odd jobs he takes to support himself. He wants to be closer to public transportation so he can complete his degree in business.

The change in the sex offender residency law is welcomed not just by _____ but also by many police departments and sheriff’s offices. It addresses law enforcement complaints that the residency requirement is difficult to enforce, can cause sex offenders to go underground and doesn’t address the real problem: Sex offenders hanging around schoolyards or swimming pools while children are there.
- I don't think that is the "real" problem!  How many sex crimes can you tell me about, which were committed by a registered sex offender near one of these places?

The residency restriction, while well-intended, was really not on point,” said Ross Loder, a legislative liaison for the Iowa Department of Public Safety. “If they’re living beyond 2,000 feet from the school, you can’t do anything. ... The concern is more about what happens when they’re outside their residence.”

The new legislation tightens restrictions on where sex offenders can go, by establishing safety zones — schools, day cares, libraries, parks, swimming pools — that are off limits without special permission.

Schools and libraries will set up their own procedures for giving this permission, the DCI’s Motsinger said. Election Days will be an exception, when sex offenders will be allowed to enter such properties to vote.
- Good, but do you really think a sex offender would want to vote for more idiots?

The safety zones include a 300-foot “no loitering” cushion where police can arrest convicted sex offenders on reasonable suspicion they are attempting a sex crime. The law also prohibits sex offenders from working or volunteering at fairs, schools, libraries, beaches or swimming pools.

Sex offenders are sprinkled throughout Linn and Johnson Counties, but the old law put large sections of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City off limits for home addresses. Consequently, sex offenders have clustered in certain places — motels on 33rd Avenue SW, apartments west of Westdale Mall, apartments north of Coral Ridge Mall.

About 260 people are on the registry in Linn County, and about 180 of them will be affected by the law change. As of June 1, 88 offenders were registered in Johnson County, not including the hundreds incarcerated at Oakdale.

_____ was convicted of a sex crime in 2006 after having a sexually charged argument with a 13-year-old girl. Later, he was aware that a 20-year-old “co-conspirator” was having sex with the girl but did nothing to help her or report what happened, according to court records.

He is worried that even though the residency rules are changing, he might not be able to find a landlord who will rent to him.

That’s the thing,” he said. “Will the landlords let us live there?

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)