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Sex Offenders Say Texas Social Network Bill Is Too Restrictive

A recently penned piece of legislation introduced in the Texas House of Representatives is under fire from sex offenders who say it would introduce too many unfair restrictions and is unlikely to be effective. House Bill 23 would require individuals listed on the Texas sex offender registry to disclose details about their convictions on their Facebook profiles and other social network accounts.

All Texas residents found guilty on sex crime charges must register as sex offenders, making it difficult for many to find jobs or places to live. Six such individuals recently testified during a hearing held by the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, arguing that the law is unjust and would make it even harder for them to live normal lives. If passed into law, House Bill 23 would make it mandatory for convicted sex offenders to include information pertaining to their identity, employment and criminal history on their online profiles. Texas law already heavily limits computer usage for sex offenders still on probation or parole.

According to one 49-year-old database administrator who spoke at the hearing, listing his sex offender status could cause him to lose his job.

Texas law already requires sex offender registrants to submit their social network accounts and other computer identification information to state authorities, but one official said that probation officers are unable to dependably track those registrants to ensure they are complying with all DPS rules regarding online activity.

While a representative with Facebook declined to comment on the bill, he explained that the site prohibits convicted sex offenders from joining in the first place. According to Facebook's company policy, site administrators immediately disable the accounts of any users they confirm to be a sex offender.

Labeling one as a sex offender can destroy one's life. Those accused of sex crimes may be able to avoid this label by hiring an attorney who will work diligently to help them escape having this type of stigma on their record and lifetime imprint.

Source: MySanAntonio.com, "Sex offenders oppose social network disclosures," Eva Ruth Moravec, March 19, 2013

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