Court Blocks Controversial California Bill That Takes Away All Anonymity For Any Sex Offenders

from the getting-beyond-the-moral-panic dept

Back in the fall, we worried about proposed legislation in California designed to deal with “sex offenders” online. As we noted, the bill would almost inevitably pass — as it did — because most people think that increased punishment for sex offenders makes sense. But there are serious issues with the bill if you don’t know the details. First, many “sex offenders” aren’t what you might think of as “sex offenders” — people who are arrested for things like urinating in public, or for consensual sex between minors. Beyond that, this particular bill went really, really far, requiring all such “offenders” to hand over all details of every online service they used — no matter what the purpose. As the EFF noted at the time, this could have tremendous chilling effects on speech:

Proposition 35 would force individuals to provide law enforcement with information about online accounts that are wholly unrelated to criminal activity – such as political discussion groups, book review sites, or blogs. In today’s online world, users may set up accounts on websites to communicate with family members, discuss medical conditions, participate in political advocacy, or even listen to Internet radio. An individual on the registered sex offender list would be forced to report each of these accounts to law enforcement within 24 hours of setting it up – or find themselves in jail. This will have a powerful chilling effect on free speech rights of tens of thousands of Californians.

Basically, no more anonymity, if you happen to be on the list.

This seemed way over-broad, but it still passed with 81% of the public vote. The EFF and the ACLU quickly got a temporary injunction. Thankfully, now, the judge has gone slightly further with a preliminary injunction, noting that it clearly goes way too far, and suggesting that the bill is unlikely to be found Constitutional:

The challenged provisions have some nexus with the government’s legitimate purpose of combating online sex offenses and human trafficking, but the government may not regulate expression in such a manner that a substantial portion of the burden on speech does not serve to advance its goals.

Stopping sex offenders is a noble and worthy goal. But willy nilly removal of anonymity across the board, with no exploration into the reasonableness of the situation, or the actual offense, goes way too far in taking away someone’s rights, while doing little to nothing to actually keep anyone protected.

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Comments on “Court Blocks Controversial California Bill That Takes Away All Anonymity For Any Sex Offenders”

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Pitabred (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Everyone is a criminal. It shifts the power of enforcement and judgement completely to the executive branch of the government because they can decide whether or not to prosecute depending on whether you play ball, and they can throw the book at anyone, no matter how specious because there are laws against everything someone might do. We’re already seeing that with things like the Bradley Manning case and Aaron Swartz:

Daniel Scheinhaus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The problem with your comment is that you say “them”. Who is them? The problem with the legislation is that it tries to include non-sex offenders into it by labeling anyone a sex offender. Clear and accurate English would be helpful in criticizing the legislation; not some reference to “them”.

Anonymous Coward says:

It makes me sick to think about these sex offense laws in the US. People who made a small mistake (and now I am talking about those mentioned in the article) are put together with rapists and molesters. They get shunned from neighborhoods. They are excluded from many jobs and put on webpages for all to see. Why is there no way for people to see what kind of crime they have done? Maybe a kind of scale of 1-5. And why is it that you never get out of that list even when decades has passed and you have paid for your mistakes?

Some crimes should never be forgotten. But those crimes should be those that are shown to be repeated, like rape and child molestation.

Zakida Paul says:

Whatever anyone thinks public urination is NOT a sex offence so why can one be added to the sex offenders register for this?

I would also say that the possession of child pornography should also not be an offence. Creation and distribution, yes; but not possession. To those who disagree, is it really protecting children? Is there less child pornography in the world as a result? It’s the same as going after people for illegally downloading music rather than those distributing it.

S. T. Stone says:

Re: Re:

Possession of child pornography should remain a punishable offense, because people can only get it one of two ways: getting it from someone who made it, or making it themselves.

Either method involves the abuse of a young child, and knowingly coming into possession of child porn emboldens distributors and creators into continuing their illegal and exceptionally heinous acts.

Now, I don’t think pedophilia in and of itself should become a punishable offense ? rather, I think pedophiles who want treatment for their problem should have full access to mental health facilities and doctors willing to treat them. (Remember that the medical community thinks of pedophilia as a mental disorder and a sexual paraphilia, not a sexual orientation of any kind.)

Pedophiles who abuse children, on the other hand, deserve a swift trip to the solitary confinement wing of a maximum security prison for no less than twenty years.

Anyone who possesses child porn deserves the same swift trip to ?The Hole?, but for less time than those who actually committed the child abuse, distributed the porn, or did both.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why child pornography in special?

Why not make it illegal to have tortured photos, snuff films and other objectable things too?

What make child pornography so special?

Children are sexual beens too, they explore their sexuality and they do dumb things for lack of experience should we all make them criminal for not being born with the capabilities to know better?

What is child pornography and why is so bad?

It is bad because a child explored his/hers sexuality with someone?

It is bad because it was made through the use of force or authority?

A rapist is a rapist no matter what the age of his/her victim, or is that not true?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What make child pornography so special?

Because they’re children, so they can’t really give consent for sexual activity. Adult porn is acceptable (I mean, not to everyone but you know what I mean) because the adults in it can all freely agree to do it. Not so with children. This is the same reason that sex between an adult and a minor is a crime regardless of the circumstances. There is no “it was consensual” defense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Children are unable to consent?

That is odd, they are miniature adults they copy everything adults do and they have their thought processes too, they may not be able to make good/wise decisions but they surely can consent to something or not, have you ever tried to take away candy from a kid without his/her consent?

What you seem to be doing is claiming that children are incompetent to make choices by themselves and should have those choices always made for them, just because you don’t like the idea of kids having sex with each other or adults.

Sex is not a bad thing, forced sex is, so why do we deprive children of the opportunity to learn and experiment?
Is there any good reason?

S. T. Stone says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

For the love of the Divine, you actually sound as if you want to defend both child porn and the sexual assault of children.

Children do not have the mental and emotional readiness required to consent to sex. The law recognizes this with the idea of ?age of consent?. (The law also doesn?t let children sign legally-binding contracts for pretty much the same reason.)

Yes, children can make choices ? but they don?t yet have the knowledge, foresight, and emotional strength to make a choice that can affect their body and mind over the short- and long-term. Parents take on that responsibility for them until they can reasonably make those decisions for themselves. Someone who forces the decision to have sex on a child scars them for life, and that person deserves a harsher punishment than any felony charge not involving the death of another person.

Seriously, bro, you sound like a NAMBLA apologist or something. Really not a good look for you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Defend child porn?
No, question it, would be more precise, debate the taboo and understand why it is so important without all the emotional BS that surrounds it.

Further, a child is a person a miniature person, it has its own wants and dreams it has its own mental capacities and it is learning at a pace that most adults could never keep up with, at some point they will learn about it all, why it is that you believe that child could not handle their sexuality from an early age, what is the basis of that assertion?

Is there any scientific study done about it?
Probably not.

Is there any anecdotal references that could be used for guidance on the issue?

From my own experiences only, a boy having sex with an adult girl doesn’t get humiliated, he probably is proud of doing it, a girl on the other hand is stigmatized in social circles causing far greater psychological damage than any sexual act could have done it, while moronic teens will abuse sexually the young kids some times it doesn’t matter in which circle they are in.

Have you ever see a boy crying or being emotionally damage by having had sex with a woman? It happens when that woman is his mother or something like that but all in all I never saw a boy with deep psychological scars for having sex with an older woman not once, they all brag about how manly that was and blah blah blah even at an early age like 5 or 6, girls on the other hand due in part to current social views are the most traumatized by any sexual interaction of any kind even as adults, do that seem healthy to you?

On the other hand boys can be traumatized by mostly homosexual advances, I am not condemning homosexuality, but I am saying that homosexuality is the one factor that creates deep psychological scars in male children, to the point that some become hyper aggressive to compensate for what they perceive as a bad thing.

As for the illusion that parenting is taking the choices for your own child, well that is most probably why we have so many dysfunctional people inside society today.

You don’t make the choices for anybody, you guide those choices by creating experiences that will lead them to the same conclusions you did, not doing that opens them to be alone having to devise their own experiments without any type of supervision whatsoever, which in short is why people unconsciously say to each other every day to not be overbearing in the control part of parenting. Children may not have the experience this is why it is important to understand what happens, so people can find the optimal way to deal with those situations.

Now what children really lack is power, they have no power to defend against people who hold some sort of authority over them, they have no physical power to push back against other that are stronger and more experienced than they are, if you said that I would agree, not that BS about children lacking the capability to make decisions.

Most sexual abuse happens by someone close to the children, the abusers are their own family members in the majority of cases of sexual abuse, what you think that means?

Means people should be protecting children from parents and family members, you think laws targeting family and parents would pass? I doubt instead people create outside proxies to blame don’t they?

Do that help children being sexually molested right now?

Of course not but that is what we got today, a bogeyman that is a proxy to the real problem that doesn’t address the base causes of abuse, but are used to push other interests.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

That assuming children are unable to make choices.
If you believe children are just miniature dumb adults I don’t think that is true at all, they should make choices and be guided, guidance means you explain how things will unfold and the child will experiment and find out if it is true or not by themselves and that includes things that we consider taboo too.

It was not long ago that if you were caught playing with dolls and was a boy, you probably end up in therapy or beaten straight.

I honestly don’t know if it is harmful or not to let kids explore their sexuality at younger ages, so I am not entering that debate, what I do know is that forced/coerced sex is bad at any age and to me that is the only thing that is clear cut and so should be the only thing the law should regulate.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think that you are right to some extent. 14 year old girls are considered children. And yet quite a few of them have the physical attributes of a full grown woman. I have mixed feelings here, if you give it green light it’ll surely be abused (teens will be stalked to go porn). But then again it’s only natural, not a long time ago girls would get married around this age with no problem…

I say that because I have mixed feelings here. I don’t think possessing material of this age should be a crime but surely the teen was forced into such state so while I wouldn’t find any problem if producing such material was legal I can’t accept possession of such material knowing it was made by force, coercion etc.

But I also see your point and I do think efforts should be focused in getting the producers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I have a simple view of the issue.

Age should not be used to increase perceived harm, harm is harm no need to add age to the whole debacle.

If somebody forces somebody else to do something sexual in nature that is rape and that is it.

Have you through use of authority gained sexual favors? that is bad, no matter what the age.

Have you kidnapped somebody and put them in a cage or dungeon somewhere that is a crime.

Have you had sex with a boy that was exploring his sexuality, that is questionable but should not be a crime, unless you forced or intimidated the boy or girl.

Why make it complicated?

Because we feel that children shouldn’t explore sexuality? they should not do dumb things that could haunt them for the rest of their lifes?

I am not comfortable trying to be the moral police for those issues and I don’t want to, I just know that you should never force anybody by force or intimidation(any form) to get sex, the rest I don’t believe there is one person in this world capable of being objective on the other moral issues and so the right course is to not do it.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Rick Falvinge has a very interesting and controversial article about just that area surrounding Child Pornography (what is really called Indecent Images)

From experience I know that those who possess and collect Indecent Images (and the law is different everywhere on just exactly what is and isn’t indecent) are more likely to distribute it as well. Though those who stumble across it by mistake and unwittingly keep it (mainly because they cannot tell it is CP/II within their jurisdiction) should NOT by any means be classified as sex offenders.

Those that perpetuate the collecting and subsequent distribution and create the ability for it to be created in the first place need to be charged fully though. Though from stuff I have seen having these insects covered with honey, placed on a bull-ants nest in middle of desert tied to a stake along with a horny bull with some minimal amount of water to give them the possibility of hope.. (it’s really for the Bull)… is probably not nearly close to what they deserve.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I Forgot.

Rick also wrote a follow up piece to that after a comment that I myself replied to in regards to the different laws in different jurisdictions worldwide

Though be warned, there are two images in the article that dependant on where you live on the planet might get you arrested and classified as a sex offender. [Swedes beware especially ]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Da fuck? Downloading music is VERY FUCKING DIFFERENT from downloading kiddy porn…

Sadly it’s hard to fight… A good example I was 15 and learning to surf the web and came across some fucked up shit. So I did what anyone would do I called the cops first which ended up giving me the local FBI field office number.

So I called them and gave them my HD and asked what the fuck? The response though was surprising to me back then but I was just a kid. They told me there was not really much they can do to stop it. They do their best but as I’m older now I can see past that BS line I was fed.

If it was cp of rich peoples kids and they were funding the FEDS there would be a hell of a lot more done than they do now.

It’s sad that piracy fucking outranks child abuse… If we would start spending just ten percent of the money we blow on the military we could fund research to fix these major issues of the brain. I doubt they want that though it would put them out of a job.

Money decides priority like so.. Piracy>Terrorist>Bank Robbers>Drug Dealers>Serial killers>Serial Rapist>Child abuse>Child Porn>Murder>Rape and so on..

It’s hard to pick between terrorist and piracy for #1 since they both receive a ridiculous amount of funding. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning twice in the same day and surviving than being murdered by a terrorist lol..

All the terrorist seem to do is give the government a reason to drop extremely unconstitutional laws on us that strip us of our freedoms one by one. Yeah they’ve killed a few thousand people here which is nothing when you compare it to gang related murder.

Look at Chicago around 500 die per year and that’s just one city. At one point the FBI gave a est around 16,000 per year which could be a little high or low but still since 9/11 that’s 150,000 – 250,000 people..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What do you perceive as kiddy porn?

Different cultures have different views on the issue.

Hentai cartoons may be kiddy porn in the US they are not in most of the other countries.

Fantasizing about young girls/boys in school uniform is legal in the US should that not be kiddy porn?

Do you even know why kiddy porn is supposed to be so bad?
Or you just feel it is bad and should be punished without thinking about it?

Personally I don’t care about kiddy porn, most of what people consider kiddy porn is not actually harmful at all.

I do care about real-sexual-abuse, I couldn’t care less if the photo of a two year boy/girl is making the rounds on the internet, I care to see the guy who did those photos or video showing him/her having sex with a baby never gets near a child again, until it can be proven without a doubt that he/she is not a danger to anyone anymore, I care that a rapist gets locked up or monitored until he/she can be proven to be of no danger to others which is probably never and with that said knowing that we should not lock up people forever they should be given chances, monitored chances, but those are the worst, those are the real problem to be solved, which kiddy porn laws contribute almost nothing to solve and increasingly are being used for secondary purposes that have nothing to do with real crime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Further there is another question, should we make criminals out of people who fantasize about fucked up shit? or should we criminalize actual actions?

Most people have at least one fantasy that they know could get them in trouble with everybody else if it ever got out.

Who didn’t fantasize about killing some animal, person or about rape or something strange.

Should all those people go to jail? What is the purpose of those fantasies? why do they happen? do they have a good cause? they act like scape valves to relive pressure? what would be the consequences of closing those?

I honestly don’t know and so I am reluctant to say that we should criminalize people for being curious about anything even if it appears to be about bad things.

Zombies are all the rage these days, most 3D artists and concept artists have to look up a lot of reference material to come up with all that gore that means having to go look for photos of injuries which is not pleasant, most writers bookmark the criminal records to read about all the amazing dumb criminals throughout the ages. It is horrible, but it is not illegal, now if it is labelled kiddy porn suddenly is beyond horrible?

My guess is people stop being rational and act on instinct only on this issue, that is bad, what motivates the decision is based on fear, prejudices and personal bias that override any semblance of intelligence from the discussion and we end up with opportunists taking advantage of that to achieve their own agendas that have nothing to do with real crime and don’t even help reduce any of it, if it was a win-win that would not be a problem but it seems it keeps getting more win-screwed everyday.

Maybe it is time to take a step back and start questioning, what is kiddy porn, what is the purpose of it, what are the causes, the harms and then decide what to do about it in a more rational way in an attempt to prevent the opportunists to have their way and fuck us all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: possession of child pornography

Here is the thing, go to Youporn and type “school”, “teens”, “barely legal” or anything of the sort, those images depict underage people having sex or imply it, they create a customer base already, why are those not illegal?

Children should not be coerced to have sex or be raped as any person should not be coerced or be raped.

S. T. Stone says:

Re: Re: Re: possession of child pornography

Here is the thing, go to Youporn and type “school”, “teens”, “barely legal” or anything of the sort, those images depict underage people having sex or imply it, they create a customer base already, why are those not illegal?

Unless the video comes from overseas, the US has strict laws about the production of pornography vis-?-vis the age of performers. (You can probably thank Traci Lords, at least in part, for that.)

As for the ?implying underage sex? thing?eh, the kind of people who watch ?barely legal? videos probably have a thing for teens, not pre-pubescent kids. Doesn?t make their sexual paraphilia any better, mind you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 possession of child pornography


Unless the video comes from overseas, the US has strict laws about the production of pornography vis-?-vis the age of performers. (You can probably thank Traci Lords, at least in part, for that.)

What difference does it make if a legal porn actress is acting like a underage girl?

According to the reasoning one of the factors was to not create a market for it, but that market already exists and it is filled by people pretending to be younger without being it, here are some names for you.


Daddy’s Girl – Combat Zone – 2013
Daddy’s Got a Sweet Tooth 1 – Combat Zone – 2011
Daddy’s Got a Sweet Tooth 2 – Combat Zone – 2011
Daddy’s Little Princess 1 – Combat Zone – 2006
Daddy’s Little Princess 2 – Combat Zone – 2007
Daddy’s Little Princess 3 – Combat Zone – 2008
Daddy’s Little Princess 4 – Combat Zone – 2008
Daddy’s Little Princess 5 – Combat Zone – 2009

And looking over there you can find other search terms and find all American pron if you just type “Teens”, “Schoolgirls”, “Babbysitters”, “cheerleaders”. “Skinny”

Than you come across actresses like Tanner Mayers that looks underage, Shawna Lenee, Amai Liu, Amia Moretti etc that are the stars of most of those film fantasies.

What is that again about “strict laws about production” again?

Of course is not japan that produces fictional school girl rape videos.

ps: The Japanese is only one country that produce those, Russia also produce those and in other places they use euphemisms to produce it including the USA and Europe.

No instead in America people produce “rough”, “punishment” videos.

Is this not promoting a market for it?


As for the ?implying underage sex? thing?eh, the kind of people who watch ?barely legal? videos probably have a thing for teens, not pre-pubescent kids. Doesn?t make their sexual paraphilia any better, mind you.

So what, when people hear about kiddy porn do you think they make any distinctions?

The law doesn’t why people should?
The law is used with the BS excuse that it helps curb the market for it, while at the same time allowing it to happen legally, is that screwed up or what?

Most real sexual abusers are parents of the victims and this is a fact, one born out of the federal criminal statistics.

Shouldn’t laws reflect that simple fact and target parents,
Since they are the most probable abusers?

Now I want to hear all the BS excuses people will try to push to see that laws targeting parents never happen because then it would be mothers and fathers having to explain what they are doing inside their own homes.

This is why I truly believe child pornography laws are a sham. This is why sooner or later others will start nothing it too and start questioning why?

This is why people will become desensitize with all these again, which would be bad if it ever gets to the point of being a Salem Witch Trials.

We forget what happened or ignored because of our own bias and taboos, but the consequences of all this false morality, will be hard felt by everyone and this is what will bring forth different views which will change the environment to one that accepts this as normal to one that will abhor it, maybe in 10 years or 20 who knows, what I do know is that at some point CP will be so abused that it will become the butt jokes in every social circle.

There is a balance to be found, we didn’t find it yet apparently, protecting kids is a noble goal to be sure, but how we do it is open to interpretation and if we never debate the issue, we are never going to find a better way to deal with it all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Possession is a crime because of the reasonable assumption that you had to have acquired it from somewhere, and that someone down the line is profiting from its production as a result.

It is, however, a very dangerous area of the law, because of vague and overly-broad definitions of what constitutes possession, or even what constitutes child pornography. Someone need not be aware of the age of someone depicted in an article they possess to be charged and convicted of possession of child pornography, nor need they be aware that they possess it at all. If memory serves correctly, numerous examples exist of cases where someone was charged and convicted due to things like cached images in their browser history, or images downloaded by malware that infected their machine without their knowledge.

The public moral panic over the boogeyman of child porn and child molesters is inherently dangerous, because it leads to broad and over-reaching laws like this, and also facilitates their abuse; Most of these convictions would have been easily stopped by a rational, logically-thinking judge or jury, but when fear and dehumanization of people who find themselves at the wrong end of the bench in a sex crime case seeps in… a lot of innocent people end up having their lives ruined.

Gregg says:

Current laws insult real victims of Sexual Assault

The current laws on Sexual Offenses draws insult to real victims of sexual assault.

Setting the bar to the same level of one urinating in public too slapping the ass of a person at a night club or too being beaten, dragged into the bush, raped and left for dead are worlds apart!

North America has to get it’s head straightened and correct it’s sexual offense laws. No more pandering to the lobby groups and make the law’s appropriate so that normal people can have normal sex lives with out having the fear of sex offenses ruin your life.

More people fear the law than actual sexual offenders.

shmengie (profile) says:

State by State, Country by Country...

So, in Hawaii – for example – the age of consent is 16. Here in California, it’s 18. If I watch porn in Hawaii, featuring a 16 year old girl, is that kiddie porn? What if I watch that same video here in Cali? Hell, in parts of Mexico, the AoC is 12. Is it kiddie porn if there’s no force involved, and everyone is of AoC?

art guerrilla (profile) says:

have convicted, sentenced, jailed people paid their 'debt' or not ?

if they have, then leave them the fuck alone…
HOW do you expect ANYONE to return to being a ‘normal’ citizen when they are stigmatized for life ? ? ?

this goes for felons not voting and other rights which are taken away: you pay your ‘debt’ to society, but then keep on paying for the rest of your life AFTER you get out of jail ? ? ? HOW is that ‘rehabilitative’ (hint: the powers that be don’t give a SHIT about ‘rehabilitation’, ONLY vengeance)

no, all this sex and child porn scare crap is ALL about the criminalization of life: you can’t do ANYTHING without traducing *some* laws *somewhere* that POS persecutors can jack you up for ANYTIME they take a notion to do so…

of course, if you are a rich, white, puppetmaster, the chance of you getting caught doing your evil shit is slim to none; you become a thorn in the side of the powers that be, and you can be damn sure sauron’s eye will turn on you and find SOMETHING -or plant something- on your lame ass…

it is a rigged game, and we all *have to* play by THEIR rules, which -naturally enough- exempt The They ™ from any of them…
based on a true story…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Anonymous Coward says:

Another problem with this fanatic pursuit and judgement of these crimes, is that; often only little evidence or an accusation can be enough to judge someone… either by a somewhat biased jury/judge or the public. (By a biased jury/judge or public, I mean the tendency to always be on the victims side and not going by “innocent until proven guilty”)
It doesn’t matter if a teacher is found “not guilty” in a court of law… He is still punished and would probably not be able to go back to work because of scared parents who wants the guy fired… “just to be safe”.

We have all read about angry kids or teenagers wanting revenge for something, and then go accuse the other person.
I am not saying to be overly suspicious of all accusations, but people should keep their head cool, and I really think that punishments for false accusations (where the accuser ends up admitting it was all a lie, not “not guilty” sentences)should reflect that they are destroying a persons life.
It is one of the most despicable acts and really has the potential to ruin a persons life just as much as any molestation or rape.

Sex Offender Issues (user link) says:

The laws in general are unconstitutional

We do not force ex-identity thieves or ex-hackers to post their personal information online, nor any other criminal, so why should we start with today’s modern day scapegoat? If you do it for one group, then everybody, criminal or not, should be forced to not be anonymous online!

Anonymous Coward says:

‘an adversarial, zealous prosecutor put in charge of the right case can wreak an incredible amount of havoc in pursuit of “justice.’

there is no way under any stretch of the imagination, that what these two prosecutors and their team did could ever be called ‘justice’! what could more easily be called justice is the whole lot of those involved in this case not only losing their jobs but being disbarred! it wouldn’t obviously bring Aaron back, but it would at least perhaps give a little closure to those he left behind. and dont forget the things that one so brilliant may have invented may never be available now

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