Sex Offenders to Feel Eyes of Big Brother Online - McDonnell Goes Further
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Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell plans to go further than the U.S. congressmen with legislation he is proposing for his state. His proposal will cover all sex offenders in the state of Virginia, not just those on probation. And it will require them to register not only their email addresses, but their Instant Messaging (IM) identities as well, with Virginia's Sex Offender Registry.
McDonnell decided to propose this legislation after a discussion with his Youth Internet Safety Task Force. A member representing MySpace told the group about the web site's campaign to get federal legislation passed that would require convicted sex offenders to register all of their email addresses in a national sex offender database (more on that in a bit). The group agreed to partner with MySpace in the creation of such a database, and decided to add the IM stipulation. State Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) is expected to be the patron of the legislation.
Speaking about the proposed legislation, McDonnell noted, "We require all sex offenders to register their physical and mailing addresses in Virginia, but in the 21st century it is just as critical that they register any email addresses or IM screen names. This has become readily apparent during the meetings of our Youth Internet Safety Task Force, and it is time we take this step. MySpace.com has led the way in coming up with this proactive solution, and Virginia will take the lead in being the first to propose the measure on a state level. I hope other social networking sites will join MySpace.com in implementing the software necessary to accomplish this goal."
McDonnell realizes that the legislation faces some enforcement hurdles. "This is not a foolproof approach, as we all fully realize how easy it is to get new email addresses. But by requiring registration, and by making the penalties for failure to register the same as those for failure to register physical and mailing addresses, we will take another positive step towards protecting children online."
It looks like a good move. It's only the first step in what will be a long process, however, as MySpace builds a database. That's my next topic.
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