Sex offenders demand Facebook access
REGISTERED sex offenders are fighting against legal rulings in the US which ban them from using social networking sites, such as Facebook.
The number of offenders challenging the ban is unknown, but legal cases are being mounted by people across Indiana, Nebraska and Louisiana.
They claim that the restrictions – which stop them from joining social networks, online chartrooms and instant messaging forums – are infringing their free speech and right to participate in common online discussions.
Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have recently altered their policies to reflect their support of banning these offenders from their sites – where people freely upload images of themselves and children on an hourly basis.
However, civil liberty groups say social networks like Twitter and Facebook are now “virtually indispensable to free speech”.
US authorities have stood by the bans – saying they are needed to prevent these registered sex offenders from roaming free online and preying on children using these sites – often without their parents’ knowledge.
Judges in the UK typically stipulate that convicted sex offenders are no longer allowed onto social networks – as part of their punishment. However, more is still needed to be done in enforcing these bans.
The Government is also being pressurised to go further and legislate in the area of protecting children online from harmful content. It is currently consulting on whether filters, which block inappropriate internet content, should be mandatory for all Internet Service Providers to install automatically as part of all home web packages.
All of the major ISPs have opposed the proposal.
Helen Goodman, the shadow culture minister, told The Telegraph: “I think its very important with the internet that we give children the same protection they have with the watershed on TV and the rating system in cinemas.
"We need a system that parallels that for the internet and it's urgent now that people buying internet-enabled televisions.The Government’s approach to this part of internet regulation [for childen] is chaotic and haphazard.
"To tackle this I think it would be really good if we aligned the filter system with what the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) do because that has a whole legal framework and then we could read across from that to the net."