In the 1980s visiting any post office had a certain flair of a corkboard usually off to the side with a clipboard of FBI most-wanted individuals. As we migrated towards an internet society, those FBI or most wanted posters seem long gone and replaced by internet variants ranging from mugshot sites to phone apps to keep track of your neighbors. While many argue that the sex offender registry is the most controversial form of public shaming, I would say that the internet, in general, is perhaps the worst offender of all.
A most wanted list, maintained by a law enforcement agency, is a list of criminals and alleged criminals who are believed to be at large and are identified as the agency’s highest priority for capture. The list can alert the public to be watchful, and generates publicity for the agency.
When the internet was first introduced into our homes, it was an open library of content where anything could be researched in the privacy of your own home without much scrutiny or regulations. Most of all, the internet through the assistance of AOL, CompuServe, Netscape, and many others became the forefront of information. At an early internet period, the net was more inclined to be a source of stock traders, news junkies, email, and instant chat well before the established cell or smartphone. However, during the introductory period of the internet era, there was a level of civility and level playing field that everyone respected boundaries and information sharing. There was not a vast data-mining field of information or credit card sharing. But the information about personal lives was kept at a minimum.
Today the internet is not only a necessity but a part of American culture and society. Governments, corporations, businesses, and people rely heavily on social media, data mining, and e-commerce. The internet of long ago has morphed into a large giant that cannot be slain. But the most remarkable part of the internet is that governments can publish anything it wants to publish without much knowledge in the long term of its consequence or destruction. When government leaders publish sex offender statistics or personal information that information is data mined towards reality, property tax, and statistical crime servers that maintain those records for a lifetime. There is no need for businesses to challenge the information because the information is already deemed credible because it comes from a government agency – even if the information is no longer relevant.
For example, if a registered offender moves from Texas to Oklahoma, the old Texas address will continue to display inaccurate information despite a registrant is now living elsewhere. That means two properties are currently undervalued only because a registrant resides at one. Better yet, a registrant may go on vacation in Florida and re-register according to state law but immediately leave. But that data will eventually creep into a server somewhere to be shared and reshared despite the fact that the registrant is no longer in Florida. This will subsequently create a tier of inaccurate economic data that risks devaluation of properties, municipality taxation rates, and could impact revenues because of how the registry is used in a public manner.
According to a new survey, 52.8% of Internet users believe that most or all of the information online is “reliable and accurate.” … That people are gravitating from the television to the Internet, especially for information, is, of course, extremely good news–at least content providers.
It is safe to say that the registry isn’t a problem. Instead, the internet and data mining is the most critical problem because it cannot be regulated on the fairness or accuracy of information. After all, the internet is an entertainment value rather than an educational or informative standard. It is free speech-based and protected as such, whereas it has difficulty in challenges by the courts. Government data is much more regulated and can be sunshine or sequestered at a council meeting. Many advocates have suggested that internet information should have a time-sensitive expiration date before moving into an archive for historical use only. But as long as companies use data without challenge, the expiration data scenario will be either buried in fine print or ignored.
The most wanted posters were a world where danger was credible by allowing the public to alert law enforcement of a wanted and dangerous individual. Today the internet has created a scare tactic that everyone is a potential threat and danger to the community ranging from mugshot to registry websites. It is no wonder that 911 call centers experience the highest number of calls when a new app is released or mentioned by the press. Police resources today are not focused upon deadly shootings in preventative measures because there is too much emphasis on registries and apps that allow a measured value of cyberstalking but in the name of community service.
Perhaps the sex offender registry advocacy ambition to change the minds of politicians has exhausted much of its resource? I would argue that the next phase in criminal justice reforms and managing data accuracy is to begin challenging large internet companies and data corporations that continually allow inaccurate data to be a part of its product and content. Bringing lawsuits to organizations that potentially damage the credibility of market values and revenue streams for governments should be registry advocates and municipalities newest challenge to discover methods to get the information right and maintain that information in a proper format.
Decades ago turning on the television was a race at 6 PM each evening to host what would be the nightly headline. Of all the media segments, it seemed, as if all the major networks were delivering the same news stories injecting its interviews or overlapping interviewing at press conferences. There was an overall sense of trust in the media that the information we received was the truth without bias or political leanings. However, the most significant part of American journalism was that all people, regardless of political compass, seemed restrained enough to invoke his/her part of a discourse by not forming a quick opinion until all of the evidence, over time, had been delivered.
Today journalism isn’t what it used to be. Instead, the art of journalism extends to anyone with a laptop, cell phone, and blog to post anything or whatever they want without much need for articulation or fact-finding. The death of trust in the media came to an abrupt halt once the internet took over. American culture and society have shifted from print newspapers, magazines, and credible orators or writers towards an a la carte version of subscription-based or safe-space journalism. I would be willing to assert that our knowledge base of reporting only the facts and what was said rather than injecting our thoughts are perhaps a critical reason that the free press isn’t open anymore to seek an unbias delivery. It has become chaos driven by entertainment-based journalism so that media sustains its membership somewhat like a drug with adverse effects. Media, along with public policy, has shifted from a balance of compromise towards a social trust barrier that no matter how much evidence there is to support one thing, we believe the opposite entirely.
Social trust is a belief in the honesty, integrity and reliability of others – a “faith in people.” It’s a simple enough concept to describe. But it’s never been easy to figure out who trusts, or why
When America Online and CompuServe introduced instant messaging on computers, we witnessed the first-hand scope of what the future of news would be. When CNN began its cable news network and launched the scroll at the bottom of the television screen our attention was no longer on the actual news, but we suddenly became ADHD candidates for absorbing information without synthesis for what is fact versus bias. When Facebook and other social media companies began sorting how data would be disseminated and delivered to individuals, it perhaps then was the reason many credible news agencies faltered, and print media eventually died. Our confirmation bias began to shift that news media took too long or wasn’t instantaneous. Therefore, people texting, posting on social media (with video clips), and presenting its version of accounts must be the truth because it’s the first to break the story in a live format. Society no longer cares about the fact because there is no need incentive to becoming truthful by American standards anymore. Politics has created a deep divide in America that the truth is only relevant if you belong to “our way” of thinking or diplomacy.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.
Some may suggest that “all products have a shelf life” and are replaceable to the next new thing. The problem is that the next best thing isn’t actually our best delivery for the truth or truth. I would argue that our lives are too filled with news instead of stories of how to remedy the problem. As a society, we are entertained with emotion and reality measurements to either celebrate or vilify the images we see on our smartphone, in media, or splashed on a television screen. All it takes is less than 15 seconds of a story, and society has managed to make up its mind in an armchair jury fashion as if they have all the evidence they require. It is a scary indication of how humanity has suddenly reinvigorated the verso pollice as its measure to rate other human beings without much fact-finding or critical decision making. Our minds have become the outsource of anyone behind and camera, keyboard, or microphone.
If America or the rest of civilization in a globalized world intends to become diplomatic and end repression, hunger, crime and justice reforms, violence, and begin growing virtuous to all of humanity with equal effort. It must start to think critically from all sides and embrace an ear of understanding to become better citizens for all instead of self — humanity isn’t entertainment of suffering or scorn. Hopefully, we have grown mentally as a society since the ancient Rome days?
Pollice verso or verso pollice is a Latin phrase, meaning “with a turned thumb”, that is used in the context of gladiatorial combat. It refers to the hand gesture or thumbs signal used by Ancient Roman crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator.
Let’s suppose that you are an American and want to view a criminal record from a long time ago. Some states enacted Sunshine laws that allow anyone to see a criminal record typically located by the state agency that oversees incarceration, probation, or criminal convictions. Other states may not have an open source of documents and require a few simple steps for requests. But there are plenty of information hubs on the internet that track citizens down quicker than a boy puttin’ on pants at a girlfriends’ house when her dad pulls up in the driveway.
Sunshine law (noun): a law requiring certain proceedings of government agencies to be open or available to the public.
But with all the talk and noise about justice reform, and it is a very valid argument, there must be room to discuss the bigger picture. Our nation is made up of laws that we as citizens must abide by. In contrast, as a nation founded upon capitalism, it is businesses that have a differing set of policies and regulation. For example, many towns and municipalities have begun implementing the “ban the box” initiative for job applicants with a criminal conviction. Just because it passes doesn’t mean that companies will follow it. Before ban the box, some policies automatically waivered criminal convictions over ten years old. Yet, companies continued to skirt its implemented plan just because it could. Companies have the prerogative to act any way it chooses as long as it follows the law. But companies well aware of undetected methods embracing the at-will employment clause as its permanent and unchallenged safety net.
Ban the Box is the name of an international campaign by civil rights groups and advocates for ex-offenders, aimed at removing the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record from hiring applications.
If justice reforms miraculously passed tomorrow by the legislature of the State of Anywhere, it could never be useful towards a real clean slate. The internet, search engines, databases, unofficial registries, mugshots, news articles, social networking, tax records, and transparent sunshine laws will forever keep a tarnish on most measures in real criminal records reforms.
If the registry somehow became a police only tool, it would manifest similar to how Colorado provides a printout to anyone that asks. Additionally, the U.S. SMART office maintains a federalized database linked to state, federal, and international sharing platforms. As long as these tools remain in effect allowing third parties to capture, query, or possibly exploit information, then justice reforms will somewhat be stuck in the mud for decades to come.
The Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) provides jurisdictions with guidance regarding the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act, and providing technical assistance to states, territories, Indian tribes, local governments, and to public and private organizations. Individuals found responsible and sanctioned for university or college campus sexual misconduct policy violations will begin importing information even if no criminal charges are assessed.
If you are against the sex registry or public criminal records exposing felony convictions from decades ago, I support your efforts and stand by you. But ridding of the public registry and/or criminal databases has a major stuck point. Our nation has allowed tax records, social security information, job applications with sensitive family information, genealogy networks, credit reporting, banking records, and police records to be stored on cloud networks and collocation servers with data continually exposed and maintained without applicable laws to protect it’s present or future. If a telemarketer from a foreign country can call home with all your relevant information today leaving you with few options to stop spam calls, imagine a world where those same calls become services providing avenues of information no longer available if a registry or criminal database is closed to the public. Inevitably society and companies will find a workaround.
The days of “do the crime, pay with time” are long gone. They have been replaced with “we keep a list, so you won’t be missed.” I have repeatedly suggested that crime does pay in America. Criminal justice and the legal system will always be an enterprise state monopoly creating layer upon layer of bureaucracy. Yes, there are bad people out there that do bad things — but eliminating a specific stigma to discover data resides elsewhere will remain a constant issue as long as information connectivity of warehoused data remains infinitely searchable.
While transparency will undoubtedly be contentious in justice reform legislation so will discussions on how to address criminal records reforms. The lobbying of many well-funded businesses, victim advocacy organizations, and corporations that partner providing sale and services certainly will be armed and ready to viciously defend justice reforms is an attack on companies. Currently, the analytics of law and social policy do not align nor will in the short term. To rid of a mammoth service with ample support backing the current conditions combined with the complexity of laws, safety provisions, and states rights has disaster written all over it. It is not to suggest throwing in the towel. Instead, it should be interpreted with the discovery of a practical method of middle ground of compromise allowing a format for diplomatic discussions to continue.
Perhaps a cautionary warning is what I am suggesting. There is a common adage of “be careful what you wish for” to be applied here. Bellowing out the injustices of registries or criminal records without an alternative may allow the rearing its ugly head of something much more catastrophic. As smart device applications, facial recognition software, vehicle telematics, augmented reality, RFID, NFC, and other technologies surpass traditional web-based platforms, the registry and similar criminal records databases may be headed towards a new frontier that could arguably evince registry styled platforms as practical for the time being.
Dwayne Daughtry is a Ph.D. student of Public Policy and Research Fellow at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Dwayne graduated with a master’s degree of public policy from The University of South Dakota where he was a research analyst assigned to the federal government for compliance and ethical review. He is a graduate of Arizona State University and has certifications in database, archival, non-profit, and “white hat” vulnerability systems administrations.
When it comes to sex offender restrictions, some legislatures have taken unusual steps to either ban registrants entirely from the internet or restrict access to various social platforms. Convicted sex offenders aren’t allowed to use Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat as per terms of service. As Facebook acquires, monopolizes, and removes registrants from its platform, it will have attributed a significant increase in national unemployment numbers of registrants and their families by millions. Denying a right to social media is equal to not providing the tools in a modern age required for industry or the resources of livelihood to pay bills or other online needs. If that isn’t bad enough, some registrants are listed for a lifetime depending on the crime. Some may argue that “removal from the registry will restore accesses to social media because requirements are no longer applicable.” However, Facebook and other company policies that align with banning sex registrants from its platforms are permanent and not subject to state or federal laws and guidelines. This argument extends to juveniles released from sex offender requirements and those pardoned, expunged, or sealed by judicial systems. Facebook and other companies policies are vividly clear that a news article is enough incrimination to remove an individual.
The war on sex offenders and compliance requirements is an easy sell by politicians, victim organizations, and community groups. When it comes to crime legislation, there will be a contemptuous and unfactual way to identify sex registrants in neighborhoods and suburbs as the most deviant and scheming to harm children. Police resources are no longer able to target meth labs, organized crime networks, or child victims of disturbing home abuses. Its officer priorities are socially motivated and influenced by media and civic crazed panic. There will always be highly charged rhetoric about stopping opioid, recreational drugs, guns, heroin, and meth creeping into neighborhoods accessible to youth and destroying families. But registrants are falsely portrayed as a threat to communities, social media, and public spaces are the modern day monster story with dishonest messages that raise unnecessary alarms.
The State of North Carolina recently passed Senate Bill 199 named Child Sex Abuse/Strengthen Laws. The bill passed the Senate overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. However, the bill criminalizes citizens and organizations that fail to immediately report a suspicion that a juvenile is or could be abused. (§ 14-318.6) Listed in the bill directs any person that suspects or witnesses an act where a child could be at risk for physical injury to be notified and identified by law enforcement immediately. That’s right. There are no anonymity provisions for those that initiate reporting to authorities. Witnesses are required to provide full name, address, and telephone number. Therefore, if at a local big box store an individual witnesses a spanking of a child then it’s either the responsibility of the store or witness to contact law enforcement immediately because of the suspicion rule mentioned in the bill. While the bill is attempting to target dangerous conditions, its ambiguous wording allows an opening for many scenarios to be weaponized either by law enforcement or people. Essentially the bill, if it becomes law, will arm businesses and people to act on suspicion or it may criminalize those that fail to become involved if discovered during an ongoing investigation. It creates an attack on the Good Faith law and muliplies situations similar to “BBQ Becky” reportings.
In part three of the bill, (§ 15-1) it increases the statutes of limitations from two years to ten years for misdemeanor crimes against children. This is where the law while intended to target serious offenses becomes diluted to include adults that feel or believe they were physically abused or felt in danger as a child. This will lead to prosecution of family members, coaches, educators, bullies, former friends, or anyone accused of abuse. This portion of the bill generates a possibility by the defense exploiting an emotionally filled victim impact statement whereas defendants are unable to recognize or contribute plausible evidence. The amendment provision appears to be driven by social media and external influencers to align with the popularity of timetable expansions for statutes of limitations in an ex post facto manner. There is no proof or data to suggest an urgency to amend this part of the law by citizens of North Carolina. It facilitates an avenue to further clog the legal system with frivolous actions of child disciplining by parents viewed as criminal behavior.
Part Four, (§ 14-202.5) bizarrely named Protecting Children Online From High-Risk Sex Offenders is perhaps the most negligently researched bill introduced in the history of North Carolina legislative cataloging. The bill mentions High-Risk sex offenders who are not a classification to be found within North Carolina law. (§ 14-208.6 Definitions of Offender Types). That implies the state must introduce a new tier rating system to separate high-risk from low-risk. But with this law, it would eliminate the tier system by classifying all registrants as high-risk without any due process. According to the bill, a High-Risk offender is those found guilty of sex with anyone under the age of 18 or other sexual offenses requiring registration. Should the bill become law it would include nearly 92% of the 17,840 or more registrants listed on the North Carolina registry.
Let’s be crystal clear that the bill is a sleight-of-hand tactic to eventually deem anyone on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry as a High-Risk offender.
Part Four also includes provisions that would prohibit high-risk offenders from contact with a person believed to be under the age of 16. There are several dilemmas about that particular part of the bill in direct conflict with current North Carolina law. First, there are several laws on the books covering contact with a minor for exploitative purposes. (§ 14-190.13) However, those particular laws clearly state that a minor is anyone under the age of 18. Additionally, it says, “Mistake of age is not a defense to a prosecution under this section.” For example, a 17-year-old having sex with a 15-year-old would not constitute grounds for criminal prosecution under North Carolina’s statutory rape laws because the state’s Romeo and Juliet clause pertaining to sex between consenting minors. But sexting is another issue vigorously pursued by law enforcement. But any communication by a juvenile registrant could be charged with a felony for contacting someone his/her own age. There are no statutes of limitations for any felony committed in North Carolina. “The internet is forever” chat logs with allegations twenty years later by a victim will keep not only registrants but the public afraid to use the internet or phone for fear of unintended reprisal.
Current Facebook policy requires its members to be at least 13 years of age. However, other native mobile apps require enrollment age at 18 based with little to no verification processes. Some apps are sexually suggestive in nature and are accessed by youth for reasons of curiosity or an aura of imaginary maturity. The uncertain risk that youth undertake with electronic devices isn’t the same as attempts to purchase alcohol, cigarettes, or other age restricted materials. It’s more serious and states do very little to address the issue. Society has quickly evolved in an online world where all facets of daily life surround around technology and electronic communications. While there are current laws that prohibit the manufacturing of fictitious identification (§ 18B-302(e)), there are equally laws with provisions that prohibit accessing a computer by false or fraudulent pretenses. (§ 14-454(a)(2)). It appears that lawmakers are adding confusion by creating choices for law enforcement and bargaining chips for prosecutor plea deals.
If a person under the age of 16 engages on the internet, application, or smart device with someone that happens to be a registered offender, regardless of age, there are no laws that require that individual to identify themselves as a registrant. Just as there are no laws requiring a person to state his/her age. However, if the parties engaged are in communications without voluntarily disclosing age, it becomes a vague statute. An example, highly likely to occur, could be where a parent or concerned individual intercepts a device of a young person. That individual discovers nothing illicit but learns the other person is a registrant and notifies authorities. During a preliminary investigation, all relevant age information is visible on another restricted or banned website registrants are unable to access to determine age verification. Is the registrant in violation because he/she believed the other person was of age with no way to verify it? It leaves many open-ended questions and serious concerns for anyone subject to this particular portion of the law. If the state lays claim to protect children and strengthen laws, then why not create a provision where online businesses must confirm and verify birthdate data? This is no differently than physical businesses that require ID for cigarettes, alcohol or other age-restricted materials? This is an attempt by lawmakers to intimidate registrants from being on the internet.
Finally, part 4 of the bill section will criminally charge a felony to any high-risk offender that uses a website where its policy specifically bans sex offenders. Let’s go back to the drawing board for this one. Who on earth reads the fine print of a service agreement when accessing an account? Not many. It is usually a quick click through. However, what will occur if a popular website or application determines that those on the registry are no longer welcome and updates silently its user agreement? How will registrants be notified? Better yet; will registrants be hauled in by police without knowledge of either the law, existing policy or future policy and its consequences? This isn’t an attempt to protect children. This is a blatant action by the state to reclaim its stinging loss in the United State Supreme Court case Packingham v. North Carolina. It is nothing more than creating a constructive action against registrants creating confusion and intimidation tactics.
Part 4 Section 4(c) of the bill may become confusing to some and disturbing to any business, corporation, or educational institution. It requires all internet protocol (IP) address by residence or employer within three days. Additionally, Section 4(e) requires all IP addresses for registrants attending a college or university within three days. It should be essential to mention that failing to do so in three days will result in felony charges against the registrant. Here are several problems with this particular part of the bill. First, what average person understands how to capture an IP address? Is the information requirement an IPv4 address or IPv6 address? Second, most subscribers have high-speed internet services which use a DHCP process. That means an internet IP address called dynamic IP addressing is commonly used. Therefore, if a registrant using, let’s say Spectrum Internet, reports to his/her local sheriff a particular IP address it won’t be the same when they return home. That is because dynamic IP addressing can change or often changes. The only way to capture a correct and valid reportable IP address is to purchase a static IP address from a service provider. Not many people can afford, in addition to Internet Service Providers (ISP) sometimes do not offer static IP addresses. It will be a nightmare for both law enforcement and registrants to maintain information that doesnt offer stability or simple methods to report accurately with often will raise a Forth Amendment challenge to probable cause. Once more, there are no instructions provided to registrants in how IP addressing or online identifyers are supposed to be reported. Each of the 100 county sheriffs in the state has their own “homemade form” often creating a forced signature of complance statement and violation of Fifth Amendment rights. (see form below)
Current North Carolina law directs law enforcement that anyone listed on the sex offender registry is required to physically verify the home and workplace address of a registrant bi-annually. What is currently deemed by law as a Sexually Violent Predator are verified every ninety days. Some Sherrif Departments in North Carolina responsible for the registrants living in their county increase the number of required visits from monthly to when as necessary depending on how that department utilizes and budgets its resources. It is terrible enough for registrants to endure embarrassing situations where a deputy repeatedly arrives in a neighborhood to knock on the door of a home to physically check if a registrant lives there. Neighbors often are curious if something additional has occurred. But when a deputy checks a business, then a majority of employees are equally interested in why deputies arrived at a workplace to ask questions about a fellow employee. This law will create not only another embarrassing way but add an additional check to verify IP internet addresses every six months or more. This isn’t a model where deputies confirm with human resources, coworker, or neighbor. These are physical checks by deputies in full uniform on a premise where no crime has been committed. It presents a method of extended guilt of past, current and future criminal activities of any registrant utilizing costly and unnecessary law enforcement resources.
If you know nothing about Virtual Private Networks (VPN), then you may be in for a quick education. VPN’s are widely accessible and allow individuals to mask IP addressing for cybersecurity reasons. The premise for VPN is to enable employees to telecommute while the network “thinks” the computer resides at the company or organization. Additionally, VPN’s are easy to install and highly encouraged by cybersecurity professionals. If a business or family use a VPN then the IP information may show the user in Germany, California, Istanbul, or anywhere the VPN continuously relocates to avoiding hacking detection. Does that imply that if authorities stumble upon an investigation of a registrant that they are out of compliance for being in a country without notifying movement but never left home? VPN data is often top secret and proprietary by companies. Relinquishing VPN based IP data will eventually harm businesses that rely upon its secrecy of where cloud servers are maintained and located in various nations. Businesses will ultumately not allow this information to be shared with governments. Will companies, because of North Carolina IP rules, begin banning sex offenders or other crimes from hiring opportunties down the road? The law provides a certain opening for that to occur.
There is also a little wording in the bill that says, “law only applies to registrants with an ISP account in their name.” That is very important because it may relieve families from having to disclose IP addresses. But don’t count on it. Law enforcement will find an interpretive way to intimidate families or roommates into submitting information they don’t have to provide. Why the double standard that businesses must provide IP data when registrants don’t pay for company internet services? To add more complications what if a registrant lives in a metropolitan area that offers free-wifi because he/she due to unemployability cannot afford internet services? Does this law suggest that registrants go to the city IT department and suddenly begin asking for municiple IP addresses? It may sound like a stretch of the imagination. But these are the very requirements that law enforcement will weaponize to discourage registrants from the internet. Law enforcement has a long-standing practice to disregard the spirit of the law to frighten and control others, mainly registrants, with jail or prison. It is wrong, but often nobody listens to the families of sex offenders.
If you are a business, hold on to your hats. Giving up your business IP addresses isn’t as simple as you may think? For example, if a registrant works as a network server technician, then count on a minimum of 20 or so typed pages of IP addresses – for that particular day only. It gets more complicated for registrants that work in the telephony field. If they work with optical carriers, then deputies will surely be angry when they see a stack of papers with 400 or more pages of IP addresses per page – front and back. It may sound like a far fetched theory, but it is highly possible. Imagine a deputy in a small county with limited resources entering IP data from a handwritten form filled with IP addresses to enter one by one? Whoever wrote this bill, couldn’t have had any input from law enforcement or knowledge about how internet protocols work? Perhaps there was an influence on lawmakers by a state agency that wants a backdoor opening to target the poor? All this part of the bill does it target the poor and those without technical knowledge to navigate basic computing.
But what happens to those massive amounts of IP data stored about people and businesses? What are the liabilities the state is willing to assume if those IP addresses are compromised because of a law it drafted without protections? What if a business identifies a threat, but it is the state attempting to peek into a computer without a warrant? If the company alerts The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) which is under Homeland Security? Naturally, there will be many lawyers and legal filings for breach of networks without authorization not to mention men in dark suits with federal badges and guns asking state agents lots of questions. Or is there a constructive method allowing human resources employees conveniently discharging anyone convicted of a sex crime because it would be a burden to report IP requirements continually to law enforcement? What implications are businesses responsible for allowing sensitive IP addresses to a government agency for a registrant not on probation and where a company refuses to relinquish saying, “no warrant, no search?” It puts the registrant in the crosshairs of potentially severe felony charges; not the business. Many scholars suggest that North Carolina asking for business cybersecurity information may violate the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Addionally, it may be violating a significant amount of laws both state and federal.
Overall, this is a bad bill and an awfully confusing law for many. It does nothing to protect children. Instead, it harms families, businesses, employment opportunities, and job statistics. Harming 17,000+ registrants from the internet also suggests 85,000+ or more families could be impacted by this carelessly written and crudely researched law. If passed, it will ultimately return to the courts and rendered far overreaching as it was once before. It creates new legal challenges from cybersecurity providers, businesses, municipalities, AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum, satellite companies, router manufacturers, computing companies, and perhaps Google, Apple, and Microsoft. This bill, if passed, could cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees also a significant impact on the future of attracting and retaining businesses to the state. Essentially, companies can exclaim they are the ones being molested without consent!
Lastly, this bill harms law enforcement and the people of North Carolina. Additionally, it demonstrates a significant injustice for an inconsequential offense that may have occurred decades ago where both sides have agreed to move on. This law serves just the beginning as a threat to the future justice reforms legislation. If sex offenders are the target today, who will be added as time progresses? While it may have good intentions to protect children, it didn’t provide a data-proven comparitive analysis that it works. Instead, the bill was introduced from external influencers and outside fear based organizations blackmailing politicians rather than listening the people of North Carolina. If passed into law, this will undoubtedly create hostilities for businesses, citizens, and law enforcement to engage together. Its vague language establishes a police state where people are mandated to report under the face of being hauled to jail for not relaying his/her suspicions. It is bad enough that citizens fail to engage in civic duties. This law ensures they stay far away from it or other situations.
For general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice
Over the past year, I have taken the time to personally take notice of each and every comment left on social media and offender registry websites. A common trait found within each posting is angered, choleric, frustrated, outraged, and worked up individuals. Naturally, it is rightfully so because of constructive methods the offender registry has caused and its effects on families, friends, and advocates. It is, after all, a severe topic matter leaving no wiggle room for positivity or light joking banter just to escape a moment of sanity. Most interesting is how one toxic comment can have an adverse effect on followers or allies. My discovery and rumination of registered offender comments perhaps are fueling the flames of consumption towards self-destruction and initiate disharmony by becoming overly critical of one another. Afterall, registered offenders are listed en masse without division or reasonable classifications that the public comprehends. To the ordinary viewer wishing to understand the dilemmas of registered offenders, is typically not introduced with efficacious dialog. Instead, it is a blended catchphrase cycle of coded information leaving future advocates, allies, and perhaps scholars feeling there is no representation of sounds individuals without becoming too personal rather than informative.
Let’s be honest about the elephant in the room. Sex offending is something that is on the one hand very serious but on the other hand, has been intensified and amplified. To the average citizen, the charge or allegation of sexual offending or registry requirements must indicate a grievous crime. The art of investigative technique is so arbitrary with the victim’s name removed for privacy sake and the details carefully scrubbed by prosecutors and police working in conjunction that it makes any allegation rather one-sided and guilty appearing. Of course, people are angry. But the accused has a duty or at least is told to remain calm and say nothing. Once trial comes and passes the indicted quickly learns a valuable life lesson that public opinion and plea bargains will continue to be the routine of the day. It is then that the registry requirements mixed with anger, disgust at a system that accepts tissues of tears instead of evidence or facts. The once calm and compliant accused is now labeled forever as the registered guilty offender with little to no support system to vent or seek a remedy to reverse a poor judgment or poor verdict. The anger should be redirected towards how media, justice, and public opinion has overtaken the balance of justice rather indifferent methods not found within any other trial standard – unless a witness protection program has been introduced.
This is where registered offenders take to the internet to voice a barrage of toxicity and vile about a system that has failed them. The the new second class citizen trying to figure out how to survive, cope and move forward with a syllabus listing of requirements to follow that often changes without notice. The rage and anger online overtake the critical message that people are suffering and require a moment to be heard. To the average joe that stumbles upon an offender, advocacy website is either introduced with a bombardment of anti-patronage issues or anger filled rhetoric. It turns off the potential learner leaving less informed and lessor of an advocate. There is a right way to exhibit immediacy, directness, passion, and emotion without scaring off a much-needed target audience. I too have accidentally fallen prey to my own unthought words in the past. I guess what I am trying to say is that caution is critical when attempting to discuss sensitive topic matters. Registry advocates shouldn’t appear to be in an “us versus them” standoff. Instead, the dialog should center at rationale and reasonable justice education.
What may work to educate the public is easy to read graphics, charts where offenders are prohibited to live/work/reside, a quick card of restrictions per state, a map of lifetime states regardless of a misdemeanor or low-level offenses. My point is that anger and disgust must develop in actionable policy with something indisputable and easy to read. News articles, blogs, social media, and passion rants eventually fade and die away. I fear that is what registry advocacy websites may be unintentionally doing. Offender sites must learn to play fair with one another and those that leave comments. Sometimes the comments are a sign of distress and help that may require some other intervention if we are going to be candid about mental health issues. Sometimes I bite my lip or roll my eyes at caustic comments between offenders, allies, and visitors. I’ve learned to read beyond the noise and try to understand how they feel. At some point, the anger and frustration must become a positive so that others can achieve hope or a bit of light when they need it most. Just because you are angry doesn’t give license to make others mad with you. In fact, I would like for all those affected by the registry to become educators. Tell your story, honestly and with conviction to influence others to become advocates, allies, and campaigners towards a change of this horribly constructive registry. Basically, learn to hone your interpersonal skills and become a bit more inclusive – even if you don’t want to be. The key to fighting the registry is to work together instead of tearing others away because they don’t think like you?
Don’t be ashamed of your past or something you cannot change. Turn that shame into constructive energy and learn to not only advocate for yourself but for others. You don’t have to be a perfect speaker, but you must learn to reign in tempers and going off script. Don’t worry about what the opposition, police or district attorneys say. Use your first amendment right to reach down deep and become a positive message for just one moment. Learn to say thank you once again, like someone on social media, follow them, repost to social media an article to garner attention to a particular cause. If someone wants to troll and express a dissenting position – let them, and don’t reply. Show the higher road and educative level of regaining your life, dignity, and sanity in return.
This particular blog is not intended for any individual. For the most part, registry websites do a wonderful job of getting the message out. It is the anger from within those affected by the registry that can bring more harm than good. But I completely understand and empathize that offenders need a platform to vent or rage. But think critically about who you may abandon at that unfiltered unparliamentary language? Use social media ‘like’ buttons rather than hate-filled rants. Do not give the opposition any platform whatsoever because they are not relevant – they are NOT on the registry. The most credible noise that should come from the registry is from people affected by it. Therefore they should be the voice that delivers how the registry has affected them, family, friends, advocates, and allies. Once we have a battle mission as to all agreeing together then will it be possible to win more allies and voices of rationale and change.