Indiana senators seek new social networking ban


Two Republican lawmakers want to find a new way to keep registered sex offenders off social media a week after a federal appeals court found a previous ban unconstitutional.

The proposal would ban Class A felony child molesters and sex offenders convicted of child solicitation from sites such as Facebook.

Republican Sens. Jim Merritt and John Waterman introduced a measure Monday that they say is narrow enough to comply with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The court found Indiana's 2008 ban violated the First Amendment because it was too broad.

"When it came to writing a restriction for sex offenders' access to social media sites, we had to ask ourselves if it was in the best interest of public safety for the policy to be too broad rather than too narrow. We chose the broader route, thinking it was the most logical step forward to protect our children. Although I don't agree with the court ruling, we will comply with it while working to approve a narrower version of the law that will pass the constitutionality test and safeguard Hoosier kids," said Waterman.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana fought the 2008 measure for a man who served three years for child molestation and other sex offenders no longer on probation.

The new legislation will be amended into Senate Bill 220, Merritt said, as bill filing deadlines have already passed. If approved by the General Assembly, SB 220 would narrow the class of people prohibited from using a social media website to Class A felony child molesters and sex offenders convicted of child solicitation.

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