(KCPW News) A ruling last week allowing a sex offender to keep his online identities private could be appealed. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says he's considering appealing the ruling on a new state law requiring sex offenders to reveal their Internet screen names and passwords to the Utah Department of Corrections. Shurtleff says the new law didn't strike him as unreasonable.
"We have a couple of options, we can appeal it. We've already talked to the Legislator about going back to the drawing board in January and perhaps editing out that part of the statute to satisfy Judge Campbell. It may be we go ahead and just take her decision up to a higher level. It's that important to keep our children safe," Shurtleff says.
U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell ruled the new law violates the First Amendment right to anonymous online speech. Campbell stressed her decision applies only to the plaintiff, an unidentified Clearfield man who never served parole for his crime. But the ruling might open up future challenges for sex offenders who are no longer on parole.
AG candidate Jean Welch Hill says the new law should be reconsidered.
"And clearly we need to go back and look at that state statute that was passed," Hill says. "You know, we don't condone the activities of a sex offender, but certainly that you have committed a horrendous crime does not deprive you of certain rights in this country. And that's the system that we've set up, it's the system that we are expected to protect as Attorney General."
The law was created by House Bill 34 introduced last legislative session by West Jordan Representative Jim Bird. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate, and garnered only three "Nay"-votes in the House by three Salt Lake County Democrats.