Indiana Bans Sex Offenders from Social Networking Websites

Bob Preston
GARY, Ind. – Indiana lawmakers have passed legislation that bans sex offenders convicted of crimes involving children from using social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace.

Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter said that the law seeks to remove a potent weapon from the arsenal of sexual predators.

"While the Internet is an attractive tool for our kids for entertainment [and] education, it's also attractive to predators," Carter said.

"Our children are spending more time online all the time," he said, "and no matter how diligent we are as parents, it's important that we try to create a safer online environment."

The law goes into effect tomorrow and is one of the first of its kind in the nation. It requires sex offenders to turn over all of their Internet-related information - including usernames and passwords - to authorities. If they get new login information for any website, they have 72 hours to tell the authorities.

What will the government do with that information? As of now, they plan to build databases of registered sex offenders for future investigations.

Free Speech Coalition Chairman Jeffrey Douglas told XBIZ the Indiana law presents some potential problems.

"I understand how no sane person could be sympathetic with a certain kind of sex offender, but there are a wide range of sex offenders," he said.

Douglas, who represented Paul F. Little, aka Max Hardcore, in his recent obscenity trial, explained that legally, "children" usually means anyone under 18, which radically enlarges the pool of sex offenders.

For example, Douglas described a case in California where an 18-year-old man drove by his old high school and clicked his teeth to flirt at some passing students. That was enough to land that man, who had just turned 18, on a sex offender list.

But besides those concerns, Douglas said that monitoring legal activity won't deter an offender who is bent on committing a crime.

"No sex offender who intends to break the law will obey this law," he said.