Lincoln County law enforcement officials are speaking out about a recent North Carolina Court of Appeals ruling which deemed unconstitutional a law preventing sex offenders from using social media sites.
The ruling, made Tuesday, called current legislation, which says it’s illegal for individuals convicted of sex crimes to access Facebook and other social media sites, a violation of free speech.
Immediately following the Court of Appeals decision, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper announced his plans to have the state Supreme Court hear the case, and hopefully, overturn the decision.
Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter believed state officials’ decision this week to appeal the law will make it easier for sexual predators to find and lure victims.
“By having no laws on the books, it would be a nightmare to parents or anyone involved with these sites,” he said. “We hope and pray the Supreme Court will hear the case and rule accordingly.”
Carpenter added that a law reversal will also make it more difficult for officers to root out offenders — a large percentage of whom already look for ways to create fake pages.
Lincolnton Police Chief Rodney Jordan agreed with his local law enforcement counterpart on the dangers of the recent ruling and noted how no piece of legislation can keep a criminal honest.
Jordan pointed out how even with the current law, sex offenders use false profile pages and names in an attempt to access social media sites that also maintain child members.
He described social media as a vital tool for predators since most sites offer “an open door” into people’s lives, allowing anyone, friend or foe, to access personal information.
“Even if the law was upheld, people can…find a way around the system,” he said.
Jordan advised parents to monitor their children’s Internet use and who they communicate with on various sites.
“While many may view this as an infringement on their child’s rights, I see it as being a good and responsible parent,” he said.
The Court of Appeals ruling could stand, if the N.C. Supreme Court decides not to hear the case.