NARSOL to SCOTUS: End social media bans

By Robin . . . On December 22, the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL), formerly known as Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL), filed a brief of Amicus Curiae before the U.S. Supreme Court in conjunction with North Carolina RSOL (NCRSOL) and the Association for the Treatment of Sexual abusers (ATSA) on behalf of the petitioner in Packingham v. North Carolina, a case concerning the rights of registered citizens to access social media websites. Packingham is set for oral argument on February 27, 2017.

Filing a separate amicus curiae in conjunction with its partners Public Knowledge and the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation joined with the petitioner in calling upon the nation’s highest court to

strike down under the First Amendment a North Carolina law that bans “registered sex offenders” (RSOs) from using all Internet social media. This law sweeps far too broadly. Social media are one of the most important communication channels ever created. People banned from social media are greatly handicapped in their ability to participate in the political, religious, and economic life of our nation.

NARSOL and its North Carolina affiliate are grateful for the dedicated work and expertise provided by the talented and capable law students of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic who were guided by Prof. John Korzen of the Wake Forest University School of Law.

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18 Thoughts to “NARSOL to SCOTUS: End social media bans”

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  1. Lovecraft

    Great work Robin. Now we just need the high court to see how malformed, misguided, and over burdening these social media laws really are. These briefs should go a long way in doing just that.

    1. rwvnral

      Thanks. There are an awful lot of fingers crossed on this one. And it’s an incredibly important case for everyone in the nation. If the Court doesn’t get this one right, then social media bans will spread like wildfire to states where there’s nothing doing. So, to our friends in states where there are no bans, you better hope that this decision is favorable to registrants in North Carolina…or the door will be pushed open for you.

      1. Lovecraft

        I agree wholeheartedly. I cannot fathom what will happen if this does not go in our favor. If that were to happen it could set us back as a group a very long time.

      2. Maestro

        But keep in mind – even if the court strikes down the STATE’s ban on the use of social media, you still have to argue with the social media sites themselves who take it upon themselves to ban us whether it’s a state law or not.

        I had a Facebook page for 5 yrs. My ex at the time and I had 4 yrs of pictures and history on our FB pages. Even tho an ex is an ex, there was so much more stuff on my page that was part of my life’s “journal” so to speak. I even had an “alias” name on there. Somehow, after 5 yrs, Facebook somehow discovered that i am an RSO and deleted my page (took them 5 yrs though lol). No one else was informed (not my P.O., not police, nothing). They (FB) simple sent me an e-mail stating that by their Terms of Service I am not allowed to use their site.

        How the heck did they know? Fake name! Fake city! Do they have a way to do facial recognition? Even if you look a bit different in your normal life than you do in a mug-shot? And if it’s facial recognition, that software program they’re using to do it has to scan through MILLIONS of FB profiles every minute to find people and compare their face to the registry photos.

      3. Fred

        If I had to guess, you or your ex let it slip to someone in your personal circle. If you had FB, you likely had a friends list. FBencourages users to report these things. It would had been a complaint from someone with a link to your SO page where they could compare pictures.
        I would not be able to trust most of my relatives to keep it quiet. They are a bunch of goody two shoes. Nobody uses FB without adding people they know. Isn’t that the point of it?
        I got kicked off in 24 hours because someone recognized my pic.
        But all that aside, at least you won’t face charges if you use FB if this ruling goes our way.

      4. Fred

        This reminds me, several years ago I had a myspace page. I connected with an old friend from high school. We exchanged a few nice and happy messages, then one day he blocked me with no explaination. The next day a state trooper showed up and told me I had to close my myspace page, even though there was no law on that at the time. Some friend.

        See that is another example of how law enforcement makes up the rules. This happened before “unique identifier” reporting was required and before some states outright banned SOs from social media. It wasn’t even in myspace’s policy at the time. And yet this VA State Trooper who handled the SO checks in that area thought he had grounds to arrest me if I didn’t close my page immediately.

      5. Maestro


        I can say with certainty that no one turned me in to the moderators at FB. My ex and I were actually still together at the time when my FB page was deactivated and only 2 other people on my friends list knew about me from day 1. As I said, my FB lasted 5 yrs.
        I did an experiment afterwards by making another FB. I did not post any photos of myself. It was up for a few months when I decided to post a current pic. A few days after I posted my pic – *poof*! It was gone with another email from FB saying that I am in violation of their TOS.
        Fake name, made up email, no friends list.
        They have some type of facial recognition software. So, as I stated to RWVNRAL, they have to fight the social media sites also, not just the local courts.

      6. Unfortunately through social media outlets we have allowed the government to build an extensive facial rec database that reaches far deeper than any of us can begin to fathom. NSA through homeland and other government entities under the guise of Protection. We have lost all of our freedoms.

  2. This goes right along with my case that is coming up in a few months here in Virginia. I never refused to take my lie detector test but since I told the examiner that I had been on a social network even being on this site I will be going back to court.

    What it amounts to is the original saying ” Oh what a tangled web we lead when we first practice to deceive” You see they want to keep the sex offender in the dark as much as possible about their sex offense still be saints of holiness.

    Now tell me how many commandments those ministers of God have broken in all these “ring around rosie” deceptive laws. Are all these things “traditions of man” or is American becoming a police state, nation or should the nation say to all sex offenders… exterminate. What a wild situation we all on the registry go thru when one takes away basic values.

    Even the right to think is being compromised by these lawmakers for the common citizen. You vote them in and they think they have the right to underscore you in a free nation and I hope we are all still under God.

    1. Maestro


      All the religious stuff aside (you know how I feel about that, anyway), I hope you don’t go into court acting as if you did something “wrong” by using what has become a common household thing to use in this age – A COMPUTER.
      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do NOT cower to them. If you get a chance to speak, speak! And say it in your own words but this is what i would say:

      “Is there any reason, other than fear mongering, that I cannot use a computer or social media while I am on probation vs when I am OFF of probation? I will still be the same James Townsend when i’m off probation. I’m not going to morph into another person with a different mind, different looks and a clean criminal past. So, your honor, why exactly are we here wasting tax payer money? Why does the court allow the probation department to basically be a legalized bully system? I’m all ears.”

      Chances are, you’ll make that judge hesitate a bit before he can gather the words to respond. Look over at the D.A. to see the shock on his face. I shocked the D.A. a couple of times when I spoke up in my court hearings. His eyes got wide and he just looked over at the judge. It was awesome! You may not win in terms of your case, but you’ll win in terms of making them realize how EFFING STUPID their SO rules are.

  3. Shannon

    I’m hoping and praying!

    I no longer have access to any support groups; including support groups for parents of a child with a disability. Which has caused further alienation from society for me, but more importantly for my daughter.

    Being a single parent with severe depression, a daughter with a refractory epilepsy syndrome and the label of SO, can be debilitating. Access to a support group for me could make all the difference to her and her quality of life.

  4. Actually, maestro and lovecraft all that have an ear let them here. They just want people to not talk to kids. As far as anything else goes one can abuse anything. Even a car. One can use a car for good or bad.

    Just as much as one can abuse one by arguing with one but yet the truth is the truth and media is either good or bad. Its just how one takes it or interrupts it. There is a positive use and a negative in everything under the sun.

    But I wonder where authorities get their authority, even to set one up. Sure everybody gets mad on here or upset at something and wants to be right on everything. I would rather be 100% wrong than 1 percent right.

    You read a newspaper and write a letter to the media… that’s social media. You use a computer and someone is disguising him or herself as someone their are not that is negative social media….. I think they have a word for all of this media status and it starts with a B ullxxxxx To take an educated guess I think the word is Bullcrap….. but I will be surprised if I do get to go to court and if I do I will use my spiritual warfare if I have to.. Or should police present a stumbling block upon the world?

  5. LM

    Do away with not only “bans,” but reporting of social media accounts and usernames (identifiers) as well.

  6. Erika

    I know a lot of my posts are way over the top and a bit long (that’s why they don’t get posted) for a blog, but I shoot from the hip and do not like sacrificing valuable information despite making it as short and sweet as possible!

    As Abraham Lincoln once stated “The only way to predict the future is to create it.”

    My contention is always to introduce the deeper origins of the problem!

    For past two decades I often thought and conceded about what could resolve this problem?

    What would make society safer, especially children from sex crimes and more specifically sexual recidivism and I do have an answer for this but it is up to the reader to adopt or reject?

    The idea is more specifically designed for first time offenders!

    This would be a post-conviction contract under local and federal ‘Contract Law’ were the offender would customize a quasi affidavit contract stating they will not commit another sex crime stating how and why etc. This would be a chance for not being subject to registration reporting requirements and restriction.

    The acceptance of such an agreement by both the legislative and judicial branches of government would be a good indication of the intent of “not to punish?”

    This is just an idea (hello, anybody their?) that will get trashed on the sidelines (as usual)!

    1. rwvnral

      Erika, we appreciate your comments and participation in the forum. But, yes, the length of your posts are sometimes an issue….and the very long ones may not get posted. Admin

    2. Fred

      It is a nice rational idea that would be acceptable in a rational world. Unfortunately SORs are not about keeping people safe, that is just the sales pitch to the ignorant masses. That is why our lawmakers dismiss facts that contradict their position, because it is no longer about keeping anyone safe. It is about securing their position of power and making money..

      The registries are about money. Money paid for the privilege of being on the registry. money for the courts and prisons when we are charged for being non-compliant, and money from federal funding.

      It is set up for us to fail and every time one of us does, the state and county makes money. The more people on the registry the better it is for the state in financial terms. That is why they are finding all kinds of creative ways to keep adding people to it for longer lengths.

      It is also an effective campaigning tool that helps politicians look tough on crime. This country has always had a scapegoat for politicians to dump on and now it is us. They make it nearly impossible to get off the registry and easy to get on it.

      Our best chance for relief is through the federal courts with appointed officials rather than elected, as they have one job, to uphold the Constitution. In recent months we have seen signs that they will rule in our favor regardless of what the elected state officials want. My opinion is that we should continue on that path.

    3. Lovecraft

      There clearly has to be a first step to reform. Even though the registry is unconstitutional for anyone on it, the registry likely won’t go from where it is today to nothing. There will have to be steps and the most obvious step is helping first time registrants. You could also consider contact versus non contact offenses, although I think providing relief for first time registrants better encompasses what we are trying to accomplish.

  7. When a person is sentenced in a court of law, the terms within that sentence are pronounced by the judge. My understanding of things are that probation and parole officers jobs are to enforce the judicial orders of the court until completion of the underlying sentence. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing in my sentencing order stated that I was forbidden to use social media nor did it give free range for any parole officer to modify any of the terms set forth. I could drink and smoke weed if I wanted to. It’s not the judges rules, it’s the parole boards rules. This point must be argued because we’ve already let these self righteous douchebags get away with far too much!