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Sex offenders fight in court to overturn social network bans

updated 04:40 pm EDT, Thu May 31, 2012

Court-mandated bans claimed to be against freedom of speech

Registered sex offenders banned from using social networks are asking courts to lift the restrictions. Blocks on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ help protect its users from potential abuse according to authorities, however the offenders claim such orders infringe their freedom of speech, the Chicago Tribune writes. The demands place courts in a difficult position, to decide between protecting individual freedoms or protecting the public.

Legal battles in Indiana, Louisiana, and Nebraska are currently seeing cases motioning to lift bans, arguing that offenders have the right to participate in common online discussions. Such bans generally forbid offenders from being able to use social network sites, instant messaging systems, chat rooms and similar services, to discourage prowling for victims on child-friendly sites. Civil liberties advocates claim the same services that are blocked are "virtually indispensable" to free speech.

Social networks have been working towards making the sites safe for at-risk users. In January, Google opened up Google+ to teenagers aged 13 or over, including safeguards to hangouts, unknown-user contacts, and publishing status updates publicly. Facebook formed a Safety Advisory Board in December 2009 with various organizations, and created its Safety Center in 2010 to promote child safety on the site.

by MacNN Staff



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