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Should Sex Offenders Be Banned From Facebook?


INDIANAPOLIS (The Blaze/AP) -- Sex offenders are challenging a state mandated ban of their access to social media sites saying it violates their free speech rights.

A federal judge heard arguments Thursday of the constitutionality of an Indiana law that bans registered sex offenders from social media sites where children could be present. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is challenging that the 2008 law as violating sex offenders' first amendment rights.

Federal judges have overturned similar bans in Nebraska and Louisiana. But, just this week, the Associated Press also report certain sex offenders will still be banned in Louisiana:

The bill sponsored by Opelousas Rep. Ledricka Thierry will more narrowly define what sites are prohibited. The bill spells out that news websites, e-mail pages and online shopping sites aren't included in the ban.

The prohibition will apply to anyone convicted of a sex offense against a minor or of video voyeurism.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana argues it's unconstitutional to bar sex offenders from using online services such as Facebook if they are no longer in prison or on probation.

The Indiana attorney general's office argues that social networking sites aren't the only forms of communication and that the laws are needed to protect children.

"It's going to be really, really hard, I think, to write something that will achieve the state's purpose in protecting children online but not be restrictive enough to be unconstitutional," said Carolyn Atwell-Davis, director of legislative affairs at the Virginia-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Steve DeBrota, an assistant U.S. attorney in Indianapolis who prosecutes child sex crimes, also told AP "it's hard to come up with an example of a sexual predator who doesn't use some form of social networking anymore."

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt says she expects to rule within a month.

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