A federal judge has begun weighing arguments for and against a new Georgia law that requires sex offenders to hand over Internet passwords, screen names and e-mail addresses to law enforcement officials in the name of public safety, says the Associated Press. Attorneys for convicted sex offender Terrence White urged U.S. District Judge Bill Duffey to block the law because it infringes on White’s constitutional rights. State attorneys countered that the 2009 law gives authorities a much-needed tool to make sure registered sex offenders don’t strike again.
Duffey did not rule immediately, but he said the case centers on a “fundamental issue in our culture.” “Children do have to be protected, but that also has to be balanced with constitutional protections,” he said. “And I never take those lightly.” The case hinges on a state statute that took effect in January, bringing Georgia in line with a 2006 federal law requiring authorities to track Internet addresses of sex offenders. It also made Georgia one of the first states to take the extra step of forcing its 16,000 offenders to turn in their passwords as well. A similar law in Utah was struck down last year.