An advocate against human trafficking labels as "frivolous" a
lawsuit against a popular California proposition that increases
penalties against traffickers.
The day after Proposition 35 passed, the ACLU of Northern
California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit
against the measure approved by a majority of voters (81% to 19%)
to increase penalties against human traffickers. The lawsuit, filed
Wednesday morning, targets a provision of Prop. 35 that requires
sex offenders to reveal their online screen names and identities
for email and social networking sites, as well as their service
providers. Under the new law, traffickers also are required to
register as sex offenders.
Daphne Phung, executive director of California Against Slavery, believes the legal
challenge reflects misplaced priorities.
"It's really an attack on the very idea that protecting our
children is more important than the sex offender's ability to
exploit people," she says in reference to the lawsuit. "The claim
about it being unconstitutional has been litigated many times and
the courts actually have repeatedly rejected their dangerous
misinterpretation of the Constitution."
The First Amendment challenge against Prop. 35 asserts that the
mandate to notify police within 24 hours of activity on the
Internet, such as on social networking sites or chat rooms, while
"well intentioned," is too broad and "anonymously chills free
But Phung says the legal challenge should not be a major
obstacle. "I don't believe that it's going to impede our ability to
fully implement Prop. 35 and really put a stop to the human
trafficking, as well as the sexual exploitation online," she
Federal District Court Judge Thelton Henderson issued a
temporary stay on the measure as the groups pursue their challenge.
A hearing later this month will determine whether the court should
issue a permanent injunction.