15-Year-Old Molester Has Right to Use Facebook, Other Social Media Sites

A San Diego court has ruled that a 15-year-old boy who molested a toddler and detained a teenaged girl has the right to use Facebook and chat rooms. The court said that because his offenses did not involve the Internet, his First Amendment rights protect his Internet usage. The teen, however, has been forbidden from pornography websites as well as using any “encryption, hacking, cracking, keystroke monitoring, security testing, or steganography” tools.

The lack of a ban on social media in this case may seem crazy, given its frequent usage by predators to find their victims, but the court has established that, in the digital age, banning people from using tools like Facebook can make their everyday lives too difficult to navigate.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has previously stated that “Such a ban renders modern life — in which, for example, the government strongly encourages taxpayers to file their returns electronically, where more and more commerce is conducted online, and where vast amounts of government information are communicated via Web site — exceptionally difficult.”

Even convicted sexual predators have rights, though this is certainly a gray area. How much online use do you think people, even criminals, are entitled to? Should the use of social media be protected by the First Amendment?

Photo Credit: Codemastersnake

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