Registered sex offenders who have been banned from social networking websites are fighting back in state courts.
Sex offenders have successfully challenged many of the restrictions, arguing that the laws infringe on free speech and their right to participate in common online discussions.
The legal battles in Indiana, Nebraska and Louisiana pit public outrage over sex crimes against cherished guarantees of individual freedom and the far-reaching communication changes brought by Facebook, LinkedIn and dozens of other sites.
The bans generally forbid offenders to join social networks or chat rooms or use instant-messaging programs -- just a few of the online tools that civil liberties advocates say have become virtually indispensable to free speech.
Authorities insist the bans are needed to protect children from pedophiles who prowl online hangouts.
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