Quick challenge issued to new trafficking law

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
 | 
Becky Yeh - California correspondent (OneNewsNow.com)

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.

Phung

"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 speech."

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 says.

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.

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