The need for Internet safety
On Tuesday, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled a 2008 law barring registered sex offenders from "commercial social networking sites" is illegal.
Judges called the law (G.S. 14-202.5) vague and a violation of free speech, according to The Associated Press.
The law, which became effective Dec. 1, 2008 states:
"It is unlawful for a sex offender who is registered in accordance with Article 27A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes to access a commercial social networking site where the sex offender knows the site permits minor children to become members or to create or maintain personal Web pages on the commercial social networking Web site."
The subsection of the law does give a definition of a "commercial networking Web site" as a site "operated by a person who derives revenue from membership fees, advertising, or other sources related to the operation …," "facilitates social interaction between two or more persons …," gives users the ability "to create Web pages or personal profiles that contain information such as the name or nickname of the user …" and allows "users or visitors to the commercial social networking Web site mechanisms to communicate with other users …"
However the court ruled the law was too broad in scope.
In Indiana, a similar law was also reversed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for the same reasons.
Agree or disagree with the court's ruling, it does bring about another point.
As parents, we have to take responsibility for what our children do and don't do with regards to the Internet and social sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
These social sites have been around for years and there is nothing wrong with the services they provide. However, we have to understand that there are people on these networks for nefarious means.
While there are some sex offenders on the registry who are making an attempt to follow the letter of the law and put their situation behind them, there are others who are not.
The case in North Carolina may be appealed to the state Supreme Court but there is no guarantee justices will hear the case, according to the AP.
All that being said, parents need to be educated on what their children do on the Internet and, conversely, educate their children on the potential dangers lurking through the interaction promoted by social networking.
Social interaction is good and has become ingrained in our society but we need to be aware of any potential dangers our children may face because some people choose to abuse what social networking is meant for.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark