Mar 2, 2012 6:14 AM by MELINDA DESLATTE
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal is again attempting to ban certain sex offenders from Facebook and other social networking sites, backing legislation Thursday that would rewrite a state law declared unconstitutional by a federal judge.
Jindal said the prohibition is among anti-crime bills he's pushing in the legislative session that begins March 12.
A federal judge threw out a law passed last year that made it a crime for anyone convicted of a sex offense against a minor or of video voyeurism to use networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks. The judge said the law was too broad and would effectively ban those sex offenders from the Internet.
Jindal said the state will appeal that ruling, arguing the law was designed to keep sex offenders from preying on children in online forums. Meanwhile, Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas, is sponsoring a measure to more narrowly define what sites are banned in the hopes that proposal could stand up to a court challenge.
"We cannot let a court fight keep us from protecting our children," the governor said.
The existing law was overturned earlier this month in a Baton Rouge-based federal court, after the ACLU of Louisiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of two sex offenders identified as John Doe and James Doe.
The organization said the terms used in the law barred the sex offenders from browsing any website that allows users to create profiles about themselves or that has chat rooms, instant messaging and e-mail - sweeping in everything from news websites to job search sites.
Thierry's bill would rewrite the ban to keep sex offenders from websites whose primary purpose is "facilitating social interaction with other users of the website and which allows users to create web pages or profiles about themselves that are available to the public or other users."
The proposal spells out that news websites, e-mail pages and online shopping sites aren't included in the ban.
"We're not giving up. We are going to pass this legislation again this session. And we feel it is going to be upheld," said Thierry, sponsor of the law that was ruled unconstitutional.
Conviction of the crime of unlawful use or access of social media carried a prison sentence of up to 10 years. A second conviction required a prison sentence of at least five years and up to 20 years. The new proposal would carry the same sentences.
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