The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in Packingham v. North Carolina, striking down a state law that barred people listed on a sex offender registry from accessing commercial websites that allow minors to register and communicate. The North Carolina ban covered major news sites such as the Washington Post and CNN. "[T]o foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights," the Court wrote. "Even convicted criminals—and in some instances especially convicted criminals—might receive legitimate benefits from these means for access to the world of ideas, in particular if they seek to reform and to pursue lawful and rewarding lives." EPIC filed an amicus brief in the case, joined by 30 technical experts and legal scholars, explaining that the state law violated the right to receive information, censored vast amounts of speech unrelated to protecting minors, and encouraged widespread government monitoring of all internet users. Justice Ginsburg quoted EPIC's brief at oral argument, and the justices' written opinions noted policies and studies cited in the EPIC brief. EPIC frequently files amicus briefs on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues.
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by Ryan Calo, A. Michael Froomkin,