Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn singed a new law yesterday which makes it a felony for a registered sex offender to use social networking sites. Like most other broadly worded sex offender restrictions, this new law is sure to raise all sorts of constitutional problems. From the Chicago Tribune:
"Obviously, the Internet has been more and more a mechanism for predators to reach out," said Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), a sponsor of the measure and a governor candidate. "The idea was, if the predator is supposed to be a registered sex offender, they should keep their Internet distance as well as their physical distance.
"The object is to protect innocent individuals on the Internet from sex offenders."
Quinn also signed into law a new offense known as grooming, where a predator over time coaxes a minor into meeting for sexual activities. The law, whose sponsors included Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo), is aimed at closing a loophole in the current sex registration law, he said. It takes effect immediately.
For a discussion of one of the constitutional issues that is certain to arise, you might check out this article by my research assistant here at Sex Crimes.
Update: In the comments, sexoffenderissues links to the actual bill and notes that the restriction only applies to persons on probation or parole. That changes the legal situation for the law in a couple respects. First, convicts rarely challenge parole and probation conditions for fear of having their parole and probation revoked. That means even if there are constitutional problems, they might not be litigated for a while. Second, courts are usually more inclined to uphold restrictions that are part of a parole or probation scheme.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the media reported the law as being much broader, but it is still disappointing.