Supreme Court overturns NC law banning sex offenders from social media

(Story broke 6/19/2017)

Back in the days of MySpace hysteria, the state of North Carolina made it illegal for any registered sex offender to be on social media. They were required to turn over their e-mail addresses and any social media accounts they had. It’s not like sex offenders are known liars and can create any number of alternate accounts, but I digress.

The Supreme Court has overturned that law stating that banning sex offenders from social media is a violation of their first amendment rights. You may be surprised to know, I’m not too broken up about this ruling. When this law was first enacted I was living in North Carolina. It was pushed for hard by then state Attorney General Roy Cooper. At that time I called it nothing more than ‘feel good’ legislation designed to garner reelection for Cooper by pandering to the soccer mom crowd. Considering that Cooper is now the Governor of NC, he’s got pandering down to an art form. I also referred to it as ‘The Dumbfish Law’ because I thought at the time only a ‘dumb fish’ would jump into the figurative boat helmed by Cooper, and not surprisingly some did. This legislation also didn’t address all the predators not on the sex offender registry nor did it prevent RSOs from creating dummy accounts.

The other thing I didn’t like about this legislation is the Government of North Carolina was basically absolving parents from doing their jobs of protecting their own children from online predators. It’s not the government’s job to raise your kids.

What I am curious to know is, what’s going to happen to all the sex offenders that were sent back to prison after violating this now unconstitutional law? I see a lot of lawsuits in the Tar Heel State’s future.

North Carolina upholds sex offender ban on social networks

This past Friday the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the law that bans registered sex offenders from using social networks like Facebook. I’m actually ambivalent about this law mostly because it was pushed by NC Attorney General Roy Cooper back in the MySpace days as a piece of feel good legislation designed to get him re-elected. It must have worked because he’s still in office. When it first passed I argued that it really does nothing to protect kids from the predators who haven’t been caught yet.

Since that time I’ve referred to the law as the ‘Dumbfish’ law. I call it that because it is akin to a dumb fish jumping into a fisherman’s boat. Registered sex offenders in NC are supposed to register their e-mail addresses and social networking profiles with the state. In theory all they would need to do is just use a new e-mail address. However that has not stopped several sex offenders in NC from being caught in the Dumbfish net.

The main reason I’m ambivalent to the law is that no one should expect the government to raise your kids. As I tend to say parents are the only real line of defense between online predators and their kids.

NC Dumbfish law struck down

Give me that fish!

NC judges: Facebook ban for sex offenders illegal:

Remember how in my last post I said the last time I checked it was illegal to be a registered sex offender in North Carolina to be on a social networking site? Apparently the last time I checked must have been in July because in August the law was struck down as being vague and unconstitutional.

The sex offender ban was put in place back in 2008 and was touted highly by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper. At the time the ban was passed I called it out for what it was, feel good legislation designed to further Roy Cooper’s career rather than catch criminals. I mean the ban could be easily circumvented, not that it didn’t catch a few of what I like to call Dumbfish. The reason I call them Dumbfish is because anyone caught is like a dumb fish that jumps into the net cast by NC authorities.

I don’t like the fact that this gives sex offenders one more avenue to their victims in North Carolina but this law was made to appeal to the shrieking soccer moms during the height of MySpace madness. Not to mention the law didn’t address online predators who weren’t RSO’s.

I’m ashamed to live in a state where this assclown keeps getting re-elected.

UPDATE: A week later Attorney General Cooper was able to persuade the State Supreme Court to keep the sex offender ban in place temporarily.

2100+ NC sex offenders on MySpace

More Than 2,100 NC Sex Offenders Found On MySpace:

Our esteemed Attorney General here in North Carolina, Roy Cooper (didn’t vote for him), announced yesterday that 2,116 convicted North Carolina sex offenders were found on MySpace. Cooper has subpoenaed MySpace for the names, addresses and other information about said sex offenders so he can share the information with police. Personally if I was the AG I would not have announced this because now 2,116 probation violating sex offenders could be going into hiding. You’d think it would make sense to hold off any announcements until arrests are made. In my opinion Mr. Cooper is more of a PR seeking bureaucrat than he is an Attorney General. This isn’t his first rodeo when it comes to MySpace. In the past AG Cooper has made what I consider to be some ridiculous demands from MySpace in the name of the children. And like most Attorneys General not once does he call on parents to be more vigilant. That’s because they’re voters and MySpace is just a faceless website.

The article also mentions that these numbers don’t include sex offenders that haven’t been convicted or sex offenders using aliases. Yet I don’t hear what Mr. Cooper plans to do about them.

No easy MySpace answers

No Easy Answer for Protecting Kids Online:

A report issued by the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, led by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and ordered from 49 state attorneys general says what I’ve been saying for years. There is no software solution to protect your kids from online predators on MySpace among other threats. The report also says that parental oversight combined with technology and education are the best protection for you children. Parental involvement? What a concept. Why hasn’t someone said that before? Oh wait, that’s right, I did.

Now let’s hear from two of the most outspoken attorneys general on the matter. First up is North Carolina AG Roy Cooper.

Attorney General Roy Cooper of North Carolina said in an interview Tuesday: “Clearly, the main responsibility is on parents.” But he added that “because technology companies are providing this gathering space and encouraging children to come, they have a duty to put in place technologies that can help protect kids.”

I don’t remember AG Cooper saying anything about the main responsibility being om parents leading up to the election. Now that he’s been re-elected he’s putting the onus on the parents. Funny how that works. By the way I did not vote for him.

Now Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal…

Mr. Blumenthal said these measures are a step in the right direction.

“We see in our police work, in the trenches, that young people continue to be lured and enticed to very dangerous situations, sometimes resulting in criminal assaults as a result of contacts on social-networking sites,” he said.

Notice that he didn’t say anything about parenting.

My advice to parents has always been don’t expect the government or MySpace to have your children’s best interest at heart. You are the first and last line of defense when it comes to your children on the internet.

Facebook caves

Facebook settles New York child safety probe:

Not too long ago I posted about New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo setting his sights on Facebook because of pervs approaching his office’s fake underage Facebook profile.

Well, Facebook has caved in to him…

The settlement involves no financial penalties.

Under the terms of the settlement, Facebook has agreed to begin addressing any complaint within 24 hours of being told of inappropriate content — involving such things as nudity, profanity or harassment — by a user or e-mail correspondent.

The company will tell the complaining party the steps it has taken within 72 hours when the complaint has been submitted via an independent e-mail.

In addition, the Palo Alto, California-based company has agreed to allow an independent examiner to oversee how Facebook handles such complaints. The attorney general will have a say in who gets hired as examiner. The examiner will report to the New York attorney general every six months over a two-year period on Facebook’s compliance.

If I was Facebook I would have told them to shove it. The amount of crime that happens on Facebook compared to MySpace is almost negligible.

Oh and look, our friend AG Roy Cooper from North Carolina has to sick his two cents in…

“This agreement is another step toward protecting children on social networking sites but we still have a long way to go,” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a separate statement. “Our group of attorneys general will keep pushing MySpace, Facebook and other sites to do more.”

Yet Cuomo and Cooper aren’t pushing parents to do more because as I’ve said parents vote and the AG’s don’t want to risk not being re-elected.

Give it up already Roy

Cooper still pushing for parental consent to use MySpace:

Seriously Roy, it’s time to hang it up.

Even after being crushed in the North Carolina House Attorney General Roy Cooper is still touting his master plan for MySpace.

Attorney General Roy Cooper vowed Monday to keep pressuring lawmakers to approve legislation that will require minors to get parental permission before using MySpace.com and other social networking Web sites.

North Carolina legislators failed to pass a bill this year targeting such sites, as some House members and Internet commerce groups said a broad restriction would be unworkable and unconstitutional.

“One thing we pride ourselves in doing is being ahead of the curve with ideas,” Cooper said during a news conference. “Sometimes it just takes the slow-moving Legislature a period of time to see the light.”

Or how about a slow Attorney General who doesn’t realize the technology doesn’t exist yet?

Cooper said age verification technology is already being used on adult oriented sites that advertise tobacco and alcohol. He said social networking sites just don’t want to lose the revenue generated from advertising to young people, an accusation MySpace denies.

What? You mean that stupid drop down menu that asks you your age? Yeah, nobody lies on that. The other form of verification is called a credit card. While a parent’s credit card may be helpful with parental consent it doesn’t prevent kids from just lifting the numbers and using it themselves. Plus it opens a whole other issue of identity theft.

And my favorite part…

Officials in two states have said MySpace recently identified more than 29,000 registered sex offenders with profiles. The company will not confirm the reports but said it is working to locate and remove profiles posted by sexual offenders.

Cooper threatened Monday to take action against MySpace if it fails to require parental consent voluntarily, but he declined to discuss specifics.

That’s Roy Cooper for you. He hasn’t been specific since he started this whole ordeal. From now on I’m going to refer to him as Mr. Vague.

NC MySpace bill fails

Energy bill advances; MySpace rules fail:

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s proposed legislation to make teens get parental permission before signing up for MySpace has failed in the State House.

But the second bill lost its headlining clause, a requirement that parents give permission for their younger teenagers to sign up for online social-networking sites. Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, said that legal and technical experts raised too many unanswered questions about whether the proposal was feasible and constitutional.

It is expected that the Senate will reject the changes and the bill will end up in a conference committee.

So there still are some sensible politicians left in the world.

AG Cooper strikes again

Cooper cracks down on predators:

North Carolina Attorney General is up to his old tricks again. Putting unreal expectations on MySpace and allowing parents to continue to shirk their responsibility.

The rules on how children use social networking sites like MySpace.com could soon be changing.

State lawmakers are working on a bill that would require parents to give permission before their children use those type of Web sites. North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper will testify before a House committee Tuesday about the need for tougher laws.

Cooper says online sites are a playground for predators, citing that as of this July, more than 29,000 registered sex offenders have been found using MySpace.com and that’s jut those who are using their real names.

I think he got that number from the Department of Pulling Things out of Your Ass. That’s the first I’ve heard the 29K figure. According to this article 29,000 is what Cooper is claiming that MySpace has told him. MySpace has yet to confirm.

MySpace.com is currently open only to users age 14 or older, but the company doesn’t perform any kind of verification. Cooper wants social networking sites to require parents’ permission before children can join, including procedures to verify the parents’ identity and age.

Again he doesn’t tell us how he expects MySpace to do that.

“It wont’ be a perfect system. Just like any other kind of age verification system, you’ve got kids who fake driver’s licenses, you’ve got kids who fake their age to get into an R-rated movie,” Cooper said. “Those kinds of things are going to happen on the Internet as well, but the key is to put a barrier up to better protect kids on the Internet and we think this will be important.”

Except it’s not against the law to sneak into an R rated movie. And isn’t that up to the parents to make sure their underage kids don’t see R rated movies?

If passed, Senate Bill 132 would also ban North Carolina sex offenders from social networking sites, enhance the criminal penalty for soliciting minors for sex over the Internet and expand the law regarding child pornography to include indecent exposure.

I’d like to see how they’re going to keep SOs off of sites like MySpace. Enhancing the penalty for child solicitation isn’t going to stop pedophiles from approaching kids. It may even put kids more at danger.

On the next election day Attorney General Cooper’s slogan should be “Long on ideas. Short on solutions.”

NC legislation on parental consent passes committee

Bill on parental consent for MySpace advances:

North Carolina is slowly starting to turn into New Jersey as far as over-regulation is concerned.

RALEIGH – Children under 18 would have to get parental consent to join MySpace.com and other social networking Web sites under a bill approved today by a state Senate appropriations committee.

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has been pushing for the legislation, saying it would protect children from sexual predators who target victims online. Cooper is co-chairman of a group of 50 state attorneys general trying to negotiate with MySpace.com on the issue.

I have yet to hear not only how they plan on implementing this but also how they plan on enforcing it. what do they propose happens to a child that gets on without parental permission? Will the child be prosecuted or the parent? Will it result in jail time or fines? Will there be a special task force that will be in charge of making sure that all NC kids on MySpace have parental permission? Will this law discourage predators and pedophiles from trolling MySpace?

Again I say this is nothing more than feel good legislation preying on the fears of those that are not tech savvy in order to gain re-election. None of it actually keeps our kids any safer.