ACLU, EFF challenge law targeting online activities of sex offenders

A voter-approved law targeting human trafficking violates the free speech rights of sex offenders, the groups say

Two civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit challenging parts of a California ballot measure that requires registered sex offenders to turn over their Internet identities and service providers to police.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation said parts of Proposition 35 restrict the constitutionally protected speech of all registered sex offenders in the state. About 81 percent of Californians voted to approve the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) Act, which increases prison sentences and fines for human traffickers.

Portions of Proposition 35 would require all registered sex offenders -- even those with decades-old, low-level offenses like misdemeanor indecent exposure -- to turn over information about their Internet accounts to police, the EFF and ACLU said in a press release. It's unclear what information sex offenders would be required to turn over, but the information could include email addresses and user names for a variety of websites, the groups said.

The law would require more than 73,000 Californians to turn over the information to police, the groups said. Under the law, sex offenders would be required to report any new Internet accounts and screen names to police within 24 hours, with potential prison time for those who don't.

Many California prosecutors, law enforcement officials and politicians endorsed the measure, which was pushed by Chris Kelly, Facebook's former chief privacy officer.

Supporters said the law will protect children against online predators.

"The Internet has changed the way we live, mostly for the better, but it has given criminals new means to prey on their victims," Kelly said in an earlier statement. "It became clear to me while working at Facebook that, to build a safer online infrastructure, we need better and enforceable laws to deter online predators."

On Wednesday, the day after the election, the EFF and ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit against Proposition 35 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

"The ability to speak freely and even anonymously is crucial for free speech to remain free for all of us," Michael Risher, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, said in a statement. "Stopping human trafficking is a worthy goal, but this portion of Prop 35 won't get us there."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Michael RisherregulationsecurityAmerican Civil Liberties Union of Northern CaliforniagovernmentChris KellyinternetprivacyElectronic Frontier FoundationFacebook

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Grant Gross

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place