Assistant Nebraska Attorney General (Contact) David D. Cookson directly contradicted himself and proved that innocent sites such as YouTube, Twitter, and Wikipedia would be illegal for registered sex offenders to use under LB 285.
Quoting the new law:
“Any registered sex offender who knowingly and intentionally uses a social networking web site, or service, instant messaging, or chat room service that allows a person who is less than eighteen years of age to access or use its social networking web site, instant messaging, or chat room service, commits the offense of unlawful use of the Internet by a prohibited sex offender.
Unlawful use of the Internet by a prohibited sex offender is a Class I misdemeanor for a first offense. Any second or subsequent conviction under this section is a Class IIIA felony.”
One of the arguments of the Doe’s is that the definition of “social networking” is so broad that almost any site on the internet would be illegal for them to use. Almost every news site or blog on the internet allows you to, or requires you to, create a profile and allows direct communications.
During a hearing arguing against a temporary injunction against LB-285 going into effect January 1, 2010, Cookson defined social networking as any website that allows you to create a profile that can be viewed or searched, allows direct communications, and allows access to kids under 18 years old. He then admitted that you “can create a profile, and you can have access to direct communications and we know there are kids” on YouTube. However, he then argues that there are portions of YouTube that do not require you to have a profile, implying that it’s OK for registrants to use.
This is a blatant contradiction because the law states very specifically that a registrant cannot use any “social networking web site”. It doesn’t state that a registrant can use portions of a social networking site that don’t require a profile, and not portions that do require a profile. Also, if you use his argument, a registrant can use MySpace because there are portions of MySpace that are accessible without creating a profile.
Given the nature of the internet it would be impossible for a registrant to use the internet without fear of breaking the law. Tools such as AOL IM, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia are ingrained into everyday life and all would be illegal to use. Remember, it’s already illegal to solicit a minor online in any fashion. The new law now makes it a crime to simply log onto AIM and send your husband a message to tell him you love him.
Hear Cookson’s exchange with Judge Kopf for yourself: