Thousands of sex offenders have been prosecuted for engaging in activity which most of us take for granted. In many jurisdictions, it is a felony for a registered sex offender to access the internet for any reason. Some statutes also prohibit offenders from creating Facebook profiles using LinkedIn, or using any forms of social media. These prohibitions make it virtually impossible for offenders to even own a smartphone. They create great hardship, preventing people from seeking jobs, places to live, or even from communicating with family members. The recent Supreme Court case of Packingham v. North Carolina makes it clear that such blanket prohibitions will no longer withstand judicial scrutiny.
A recent case argued before the United States Supreme Court, Packingham v. North Carolina, may shake up how the government can regulate the internet activity. The petition involves a First Amendment challenge to a North Carolina law that imposes criminal penalties to registered sex offenders who visit "social media sites," such as Facebook or Youtube, where users can communicate or exchange information with minors. The case arises from a sex-offender who was prosecuted for posting the phrase "God is Good!" on Facebook to celebrate the dismissal of a traffic ticket.