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Judge blocks enforcement of Calif. human trafficking law

Jaikumar Vijayan | Nov. 9, 2012
A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a provision in a just-enacted California state law that requires all registered sex-offenders to immediately turn over the all of their Internet identifiers and the names of their Internet service providers to local police or sheriff's departments.

The requirement is unconstitutional, contends Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney for the EFF who is representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

"This is a First Amendment issue," Fakhoury said. "What the [statute] does is to eliminate the right to speak anonymously for an entire class of individuals."

The bill is not limited to human traffickers. Rather it applies to every sex offender in the state regardless of how minor the offense was or how long ago it occurred, he said.

It's one thing to expect a curtailment of certain rights for people who are currently incarcerated or under probation or parole, Fakhoury said. It's another matter though to curtail those rights, for people who have already served out their prison time and their probationary periods, he said.

"At some point, they become just like everybody else in society" and have the right to communicate anonymously online if they choose to, he said.

The District Court has scheduled a hearing on Nov. 20 to decide whether a preliminary injunction enjoining the state from implementing and enforcing the provision should be issued.


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