In Doe v. Shurtleff, 1:08-CV-64 TC (D. Utah Sept 25, 2008) the District of Utah struck down a state statute implementing the Department of Justice's proposed guidelines for compliance with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. 42 U.S.C. s 16914. The Utah law requires regisetered sex offenders to disclose:
all "Internet identifiers and the addresses the offender uses for routing or self-identification in Internet communications or postings; [and]
the name and internet address of all websites on which the sex offender is registered using an online identifier, including all online identifiers and passwords used to access those websites."
Utah Code Ann. 77-27-21.5(12)(i) & (j). The statute defines "online identifier" to include email, social networking or similar name used for Internet communications" and excludes date of birth, SSN, or PIN numbers.
Mr. Doe, a convicted sex offender who had served his sentence and was not on parole, filed suit challenging the statute, alleging that it violated his First Amendment rights. As the court itself noted, Mr. Doe's suit appears to be the first challenge by a registered sex offender to the internet information requirement.
The State of Utah argued that while Mr. Doe had a first amendment right to anonymous speech, the law did not violate that right, because while the state used the information to investigate crimes, it did not monitor non-criminal behavior, nor did it disseminate information to the public.
The Court rejected that argument. First, after a lengthy examination of case law, the court found that anonymous speech is a "well-established constitutional right," and that the internet plays an important role in expressing protected anonymous speech. The court next determined that sex offenders do not relinquish that right if they have finished their prison term and are no longer on parole. Finally, the court determined that disclosure of internet identifier information burdened Doe's constitutional right finding that the disclosure requirement it was not sufficiently tailored to the goal of investigating sex offenders because law enforcement had numerous other tools to obtain such information in the context of a criminal investigation.