Sex Offender Law to Require Facebook Status Update

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By Deanne Katz, Esq. on June 22, 2012 9:02 AM

Facebook already bans sex offenders but a new law in Louisiana may help them enforce that policy. The law, which goes into effect August 1, requires sex offenders and child predators to identify themselves on social networking sites.

Major social networking site try to remove profiles belonging to registered sex offenders and some of them forbid sex offenders from registering at all. But with the high number of users, it's possible that some will slip through the cracks.

Louisiana's new law not only requires sex offenders to self-identity, it allows the public to identify them in return.

Under the new law, sex offenders and child predators living in Louisiana will have to identify their criminal status on their profile page for any social networking site. They must also include, "notice of the crime for which he was convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of his physical characteristics... and his residential address."

The law's creator, State Rep. Jeff Thompson, expects that the law will pass constitutional muster.

The Louisiana law is the first in the nation to force sex offenders to identify themselves on social networking sites and the definition of social networking is fairly broad. The kind of website covered by this law is any that focuses on social interaction and uses profiles, pictures, and messages to do so, reports MSN.

Other states prohibit sex offenders from accessing social networking sites so Thompson may be correct that the law could withstand a constitutional challenge. The types of laws that have failed in the past are ones that completely ban sex offenders from the internet.

Facebook is also endorsing Louisiana's new sex offender law as a way to protect young people from online sexual predators, as reported by New York Daily News.

Failure to disclose one's status as a sex offender could result in between two and ten years in prison, according to Politico.

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