CLAIM: Sex offenders are not required to carry cards identifying them as sex offenders as this is an invasion of their privacy.
FACTS: Several states require registered sex offenders to carry special identification, and when states rejected these laws, it was based on the First Amendment, not privacy.
Social media users twist sex offender laws because they criticize the COVID-19 vaccination proof requirements and mistakenly compare the two. “So we need a vaccination card to drink a beer in a bar, but sex offenders don’t need to carry anything?” reads text on a widely shared TikTok video. “The United States has over 750,000 registered sex offenders and NONE of them are required to carry a passport because it violates their privacy,” read another video. These claims are based on the false premise that privacy protections prevent sex offenders from being required to carry special identification. But sex offender law experts have confirmed that in at least nine states, sex offenders must carry a state ID card with a special tag. “In some states that says sex offender while in others the designation is a known law enforcement code,” said Elizabeth Jeglic, professor and psychologist at John Jay College in New York City who studies prevention of. sexual violence. Courts in some states have repealed laws requiring sex offenders to identify themselves in this way, but judges have not invoked confidentiality grounds. Instead, they emphasized the First Amendment forced speech doctrine, which says the government cannot force an individual or group to deliver a certain message. The allegations disseminated online this week also fail to acknowledge that registered sex offenders have limited access to privacy, according to Alissa Ackerman, assistant professor of criminal justice at California State University, Fullerton. When sex offenders are required to register, they must upload their full name, demographic information, pseudonyms, date of birth, address and other information to a public database, Ackerman said. “So they don’t have a lot of privacy,” she said. “This claim that is being made online is just plain stupid.”