End of social media ban for some sex offenders in New York

ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – People on the New York State Sex Offender Registry can now access the internet and social media platforms without restrictions, except in certain circumstances. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), Rutgers Law School’s Constitutional Rights Clinic and New York Prisoners’ Legal Services reached a settlement on January 24, ending the ban.

The original Jones et al. v. A Stanford lawsuit was filed against the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and the New York Board of Parole in March 2020. The plaintiffs challenged the New York law on Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators (e-STOP) and DOCCS Directive 9201.

In 2008, e-STOP was set up by former Governor Andrew Cuomo when he was Attorney General. The law originally targeted social media platforms like MySpace, AIM and Facebook to keep sex offenders away from these sites. According to NYCLU, e-STOP has since expanded its definition of social media to include websites with profiles, logins and subscription services.

The DOCCS website currently states that e-STOP applies to people on the sex offender registry if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • The victim of the offense was under the age of 18 at the time
  • They have been designated as Level 3 sex offenders on the Sex Offender Registry
  • The Internet was used to facilitate the commission of the crime

According to the modified version of Jones et al. vs. Complaint by Stanford, Directive 9201 completely barred internet access for sex offenders under community supervision. This complaint was filed in June 2020.

One of the main purposes of the complaint was that sex offenders who did not use the internet for the offense were also banned from using the internet. The complaint highlights how social media has become a vital part of life and the ban is a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

In September, a preliminary injunction was put in place preventing the state from imposing social media restrictions on those convicted of sex offenses who were not using the internet. The approved transaction sets up a permanent injunction.

“This is a crucial settlement that underscores the reality that in the 21st century, the internet and social media are prerequisites for speaking up and participating in society,” said Daniel Lambright, senior counsel at the NYCLU. “With this settlement in place, those convicted of sexual offenses that did not involve the use of the internet or social media will no longer be mass-banned from an essential resource that helps them reintegrate into society. keeping in touch with their family, looking for a job. and housing, and read the news.

Sex offenders can now only benefit from restrictions on the internet if there are legitimate concerns about the likelihood that a person will sexually re-offend using the internet or social media, or where restrictions are deemed necessary to ensure respect for a specific rehabilitation objective. DOCCS and the Parole Board will also be required to report changes to their review system and regularly post information about the implementation of those changes to the attorney handling the case.

“By ensuring that parole conditions regarding internet and social media access are properly linked to risk, this regulation both protects the constitutional rights of those on parole and supports their successful reintegration,” said Alexis Karteron. , director of the Rutgers Constitutional Rights Clinic.

In a statement, DOCCS said:

“The department has negotiated and agreed to a settlement in this matter. DOCCS staff are in the process of implementing the requirements of the regulation and have 120 days from the date of the stipulation to comply. It is important to note that as part of this resolution, the Department retains the ability to impose individualized restrictions where appropriate for public safety.


The full rules can be read on the NYCLU website.

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