New Mexico is considering legislation that would ban all registered sex offenders from using social media websites.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican
, the proposal would prohibit registered sex offenders from using any websites, including Facebook and Twitter, that incorporate instant messaging or chat room features that “the sex offender knows allows a person who is under eighteen years of age to access or use.”
Violations would face stiff penalties. Although a first offense would be a misdemeanor, any subsequent incidents would be treated as fourth-degree felonies, the newspaper reported.
The proposed legislation has already received criticism from some civil rights and free speech organizations, including Reform Sex Offender Laws of New Mexico. Opponents claim the law is an unconstitutional attempt to overly limit free speech rights and, according to Lloyd Schwartz, the reform organization’s president, "doesn’t take into account that many of the people on the registry didn't commit a crime against a minor.”
Indiana, Louisiana, and Nebraska have passed laws similar to the one proposed in New Mexico. But the courts have ruled the laws unconstitutional in
Louisiana and Nebraska.
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