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Fed Judge Reverses Decision on Sex Registry

August 21, 2009

sltrib.com : Federal judge unleashes Utah’s sex-offender registry
-A previous order found the list violated the First Amendment.

A federal judge on Thursday vacated an earlier decision that protected a sex offender from turning over his Internet names and passwords to Utah’s Department of Corrections.

Judge Tena Campbell said the case against the state is moot because the Legislature has corrected the formerly overreaching sex-offender registry rules.

A man referred to in court papers as John Doe was convicted in military court of sexual offenses in 2005. He was later released from prison and forced to register personal information, such as his name and address, with the Department of Corrections’ online sex-offender registry.

John Doe’s crime did not involve the Internet, but a Utah law that took effect July 1, 2008, added registry requirements forcing Doe and other offenders to provide Internet screen names, passwords and Web sites where they are registered. The measure included e-mail, chat, instant messengers and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

Doe challenged the law, saying it violated his First Amendment right to free speech among other things. In 2008, Campbell agreed, ruling the new law was too restrictive.

Utah’s Legislature has since amended the registry. Now Corrections only can use Internet identifiers to investigate sex crimes, and that information is now deemed private under state records laws.

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