Sex offenders don’t want the government to know what they are doing online or posting on news and social-networking sites and intend to challenge e-mail registry requirements to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Denver Post reports. Colorado and other states are scaling back e-mail information that was previously available for the public to view. In Colorado, felony sex offenders are required to submit their e-mail addresses and any identifiers they use before logging into Facebook or MySpace or making comments on newspaper websites. Last month, the Colorado Department of Public Safety made it tougher to find the e-mail addresses and Internet identifiers of registered sex offenders on the public database.
Now when looking up a name, for example John Smith, the e-mail address no longer shows up. If a searcher already has an e-mail address in hand, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, the database will reveal the identity of the offender. Sex offenders say the registry requirements infringe upon their anonymous- free-speech rights. “The government has no right to unmask a speaker unless they have probable cause,” said John Doe, a registered sex offender whose case was heard at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. “If someone goes online and commits a crime, the government has a right to go in and find out who that is,” he said. “But they do not have that power without circumstances arising and they are trying to get around that now.” In 2008, Doe filed suit against the state of Utah, arguing the e-mail registration requirements violated his constitutional rights. A federal judge agreed and issued an injunction barring the state from collecting the Internet identifiers.