81% of the voting public agreed with California’s Prop. 35 (“Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act”) and, with such overwhelming support, it was passed in 2012. However, since then there has been a great deal of debate concerning whether or not portions of this initiative are far too burdensome for those who are affected. For example, not only did Prop. 35 mean that prison terms were increased and victim restitution mandated for those proved to be involved in human trafficking, but it also required that all sex offenders (CA Penal Code 290) (including traffickers) disclose all information pertaining to their Internet usage. It is this last bit that has stirred up controversy and, just recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that this measure is, indeed, unfair and difficult.
Now, this part of Prop. 35 can no longer be enforced. In fact, it was resolved that asking for such detailed and intimate details of a person’s online presence is a violation of any citizen’s 1st Amendment rights. Furthermore, the proposition lacked a certain amount of clarity as to what information, exactly, was meant to be reported. Lastly, it forced registered offenders of any ilk and who had been convicted of any crime that counts as a sexual offense (the list of which is quite lengthy) to report changes in their online presence, including switching providers or changing their usernames, within a mere 24-hour period.
While the case may be that human trafficking is a problematic issue, especially in the Bay Area, many people believe that creating laws that are geared toward one group of people may require a lighter hand. Certainly, as the appellate court seems to agree, when it comes to nearly impossible requirements, the law ought to bend a bit, at least when it bends toward the U.S. Constitution.