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Convicted Sex Offender Challenges Social Media Ban in Norwegian Supreme Court

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A convicted sex offender filed a petition to the Norwegian Supreme Court to allow him to use social media for the reason that it is a fundamental human right. 

On Thursday, the court heard the case of a man convicted of assaulting a juvenile and using Snapchat to contact boys, as reported by SCMP.

The unnamed criminal received a 13-month jail sentence and a two-year Snapchat ban last year. His lawyers say restricting his platform access breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

The argument depends on social media platforms’ growing relevance for free expression, despite the court’s need to interpret rules from before their existence.

It’s Freedom of Expression

According to defense lawyer John Christian Elden, his client’s case raises essential questions about the extent of social media access restriction, as these online platforms serve as “significant tools for exercising the right to freedom of expression” and maintaining relationships.

In November 2023, the defendant’s Snapchat exploitation of children justified the ban, but the state’s appeal failed.

The Appeal Court ruled that the offender could use other social media sites throughout the suspension. If the Supreme Court agrees, the criminal may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

This is not the first Norwegian court case to use the European Convention on Human Rights. Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right fanatic who killed 77 people in 2011, failed to challenge his solitary imprisonment under the convention as harsh.

Snap Inc.’s Snapchat allows users to send and receive disappearing messages and reveal their whereabouts. Snap permits anonymous account creation but prevents child sexual exploitation.

In the second half of 2023, the firm deactivated 343,865 child sexual exploitation accounts worldwide, including 879 in Norway. The number of accounts permanently removed remains unknown.

The Norwegian Supreme Court will decide in a few weeks.

Approximately 500,000 online predators operate daily, targeting 12-15-year-olds for grooming and manipulation, according to the Child Crime Prevention & Safety Center.

While the FBI claims that over 50% of internet sexual exploitation victims are of this age, Internet chatrooms and instant messaging services account for 89% of juvenile sexual approaches.

Over 25% of reported exploitation incidents include predators requesting sexually explicit images from children.

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Four percent of young people receive aggressive internet solicitations from adults, including phone and in-person calls. Online strangers worry 58% of parents.

Two in 10 children ages  8 to 11 worry about outsiders obtaining their personal information. To get friends or followers, 40% of kids adjust their privacy settings on social media.

Online predators usually use prominent social media sites to impersonate their victims. Groomers use false profile images, shared hobbies, presents, and effusive praise to earn the child’s confidence.

Kentucky Legislators: Sex Offenders Must Use Real Name Online

To improve internet safety against online sex predators, Kentucky legislators recently filed Senate Bill 249, which requires registered sex offenders to use their true identities on social media.

Social media is crucial for forging relationships in the digital era, but its anonymity raises concerns. By making online sexual predators easier to spot, SB 249 reduces these dangers, per Fox News.

SB 249 sponsor Lindsey Tichenor stresses online openness. According to Tichenor, the law would require registered sex offenders to post their real identities on social media, allowing anybody to verify their identification.

To implement this policy, Tichenor suggests a monitoring system similar to the one for reporting dwellings. This method would track registered sex offenders’ social media.

As long as a sex offender’s legal name is public, Tichenor says they can use a number or symbolic identity instead of their real name on social media.

Kentucky Senator Chris McDaniel stresses the severity of the penalties, which start as a Class A misdemeanor and escalate to a Class D felony for repeat violations.

 While acknowledging the importance of free speech, Senators Tichenor and McDaniel argue that SB 249 is essential to protecting vulnerable individuals from online sexual predators.

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