Thursday, 31 May 2012

Ms Emma Barnett - Fearful, Misinformed And Dangerous To Freedom

The Issue

A number of challenges are taking place, within the USA, regarding the constitutional rights of registrants to access the internet, and, in these recent cases, particularly 'social networking sites'.

Ms Emma Barnett, Digital Media Editor for The Telegraph ...

Emma Barnett (Website)
Emma Barnett (Twitter)
Emma Barnett (Mediauk)
Emma Barnett (Journalisted)
Emma Barnett (LBC 97.3)

... has created two pieces, this being part of the first:


1:08PM BST 31 May 2012

Sex offenders demand Facebook access

"Registered sex offenders are fighting against legal rulings in the US which ban them from using social networking sites, such as Facebook.

The number of offenders challenging the ban is unknown, but legal cases are being mounted by people across Indiana, Nebraska and Louisiana.

They claim that the restrictions – which stop them from joining social networks, online chartrooms and instant messaging forums – are infringing their free speech and right to participate in common online discussions.

Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have recently altered their policies to reflect their support of banning these offenders from their sites – where people freely upload images of themselves and children on an hourly basis.

However, civil liberty groups say social networks like Twitter and Facebook are now “virtually indispensable to free speech”.

US authorities have stood by the bans – saying they are needed to prevent these registered sex offenders from roaming free online and preying on children using these sites – often without their parents’ knowledge.

Judges in the UK typically stipulate that convicted sex offenders are no longer allowed onto social networks – as part of their punishment. However, more is still needed to be done in enforcing these bans ... [we will cover this issue, below]


The OSC has contacted Facebook, on a number of occasions, so as to discuss their Terms of Service etc; we have received no reply.

This is the position of The OSC, on this issue:


"Apart from a small, single number ... every sexual offence/attack/potentially-illegal action (i.e. hundreds/thousands worldwide), involving Social Networking sites, has been carried out by non-'RSO's, almost exclusively by minors, themselves.

A community, whether on-line or off, includes all its members. All members have equivalent legal, Human and civil rights to that membership and enjoy the right to a private life and the enjoyment of it, free from offence, fear and harassment.

Free Speech must be balanced against these rights. There are many people who believe their right to Free Speech is absolute; this is not correct. However, we do believe it should be enabled, as much as is reasonably possible.

The other fundamental requirement, is being able to monitor and report offensive, and potentially-illegal content, carried out against registrants etc, on these sites; we do this, regularly, in assisting the authorities.

Free Speech rights must be allowed and be proportionate, and the creation of scapegoats and pariahs, for no good, evidenced-based reason, is no such response."


Ms Barnett is, clearly, confused, about the nature of the need to register under the SOA 2003, and that many, if not, most, of the people who do so, are no more of a threat to society than those who do not.

She also seems ill-informed, on the requirements and nature of SOPOs, and the frequency of such 'bans'; we hope she will respect our contact, so as to clarify her confusions.

These are the relevant parts of Ms Barnett's second piece:

1:08PM BST 31 May 2012

Registered sex offenders have no right to be on Facebook

"Most judges [sic] in the UK now make it part of a sex offender’s terms of punishment [sic] to be banned from such sites. And companies like Facebook and LinkedIn have it written into their policies that no such person is allowed to join or tolerated in their virtual communities.

However, we are still far from a world where the judiciary and police have caught up with monitoring adult abuse and child grooming online pre-emptively – before it goes too far – and as well as they do in the real world.

Equally, while the Government remains undecided about whether filters to protect children from inappropriate content online should be mandatory – we are still missing vital legislation to proactively protect our children and vulnerable adults online from invisible predators. {the legislation exists and is clear, if disproportionate to civil rights]

Registered sex offenders [sic] should never be allowed on social networks where people freely use their profiles as digital scrapbooks of their lives – frequently sharing photos of their babies and themselves on nights out potentially dressed proactively [whyever not, is it the 'Paedo-Stare-Of-Doom', which concerns you?] 

They do not have the right [sic] to participate in an open network online – where many children under the age of 13 have set up identities without their parents’ knowledge – just as they cannot mix openly in society offline [we are sorry, what was that? -  we cannot mix openly with minors offline? That is certainly 'news' to us]

The rules protecting children [sic] and curbing the freedoms [indeed] of registered sex offenders [sic] in the real world must be rigorously upheld in the virtual world if our digital-savvy society is to function healthily. [they are, in fact, as the courts are beginning to show, too much so]

It is the duty [sic] of the social networks, governments, the judiciary and police, in all countries, to work closely together to keep registered sex offenders and other harmful people [sic] away from these very open and welcoming online forums.


Once again, Ms Barnett's zealous, hyperbolic, populist, ignorance is clear to all.

We look forward to a conversation, with Ms Barnett; she knows where we are.


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