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The court paid the usual deep-toned lip service to the importance of protecting anonymous speech — “The first amendment right to freedom of speech includes the right to publish and distribute writings while remaining anonymous …
Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority [and] thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation — and their ideas from suppression — at the hand of an intolerant society” — while simultaneously demonstrating just how weak a reed that protection really is.
Individuals on the Illinois registry, like registrants in most of the 50 states, have to disclose the following information to state law enforcement officials: all e-mail addresses, instant messaging identities, chat room identities, and other Internet communications identities that the sex offender uses or plans to use; all Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) registered or used by the sex offender; [and] all blogs and other Internet sites …
to which the sex offender has uploaded any content or posted any messages or information ….” disclose [the identifier information] to the following county entities: institutions of higher education, public school boards, child care facilities, libraries, public housing agencies, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, social service agencies providing services to minors, and volunteer organizations providing services to minors.
** In my opinion (see here) courts must apply the highest level of First Amendment scrutiny — “strict scrutiny” — to statutory schemes that, like the Illinois statute here, completely destroy the ability of a class of persons to communicate anonymously online.
Part (a) was (and always is) easy enough: The governmental interest (“preventing sex offenses against children and protecting the public”) is (obviously and uncontroversially) substantial, and the disclosure provisions serve that interest by “provid[ing] crucial information to law enforcement agencies monitoring the movement of sex offenders, and disseminating the information to the public.” You might pause for a moment and consider just how government-friendly this part of the test is.
You will face life-altering penalties that threaten your freedom, your family, and your employment if you are convicted of online sex crimes of any kind, especially those involving children. Illinois law covers a wide range of Internet sex offenses, including: However you come to be charged with using the Internet for sex crimes, you are immediately cast as a predator at best, a pedophile at worst; the kind of criminal that judges and juries don’t like, especially if it involves the intentional enticing of a minor.
The study used three research methods: arrest statistics, focus groups with individuals who were prostituted as juveniles, and interviews with law enforcement officers.
For all other members of the public, this information must be made available upon request and may be placed ‘on the Internet or in other media.’ Further, the Illinois State Police must maintain an Internet website that makes sex offenders’ registration information available to the public.” Minnis registered two email identifiers, along with his Facebook username, in 2011; in his 2014 registration, however, he omitted the Facebook identifier.