WEINER AND COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PROTECT CHILDREN ON THE INTERNET
Today, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn & Queens), joined by Congressmen Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Paul Gillmor (R-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and John McCain (R-AZ), announced the KIDS (Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators) Act of 2007, a bill to require sex offenders to register their e-mail and instant message addresses with the National Sex Offender Registry.
Under the bill, the Department of Justice will make this information available to social networking sites to compare with user profiles in order to protect children from sexual predators online. The bill would also make it a crime for anyone over the age of 18 to misrepresent their age with the intent to use the Internet to engage in criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
The legislation follows a comprehensive study of New York State's sex offender database completed by Rep. Weiner. The study found that over 85% of registered sex offenders in New York City live less than five blocks from schools, and 670 sex offenders live within just two blocks. Some offenders are even closer, permanently residing less than 500 feet away from unwitting parents, educators and children.
The "Kids Act" implements one of Weiner's six recommendations to keep a closer eye on sex offenders both near school grounds and online. Weiner also proposed stricter GPS tracking of sex offenders, tougher enforcement of registration laws and more public disclosure of sex offender data.
"Sadly, the Internet is the predator's venue of choice today," said Rep. Weiner. "We need to update our strategies and our laws to stop these offenders who are a mere click away from our children."
A summary of the bill follows this release.
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KIDS (Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators)
Act of 2007 Bill Summary
Key provisions of the bill:
Registration of Online Identifiers of Sex Offenders
* This bill requires a convicted sex offender to register "any e-mail address, instant message address, or other similar Internet identifier the sex offender used or will use to communicate over the Internet" with the National Sex Offender Registry. It requires the offender to update the information before any new e-mail address, instant message address, or other similar Internet identifier is used.
* If the offender fails to register this information the offender will be fined or imprisoned for not more than ten years. If the offender is on parole, failure to register or knowingly registering false information results in mandatory revocation of supervised release.
Release of E-mail address, Instant message address, or other similar Internet identifiers
* This information will not be released to the general public.
* The Department of Justice can release this information to a "social networking website" if the website provides to the Department:
(1) the name, address and telephone number of the website;
(2) the legal nature of the website;
(3) an affirmation signed by the website's chief legal officer stating that this information will not be disclosed for any purpose other than for comparing the database of registered users of that commercial website against the registry information in order to protect children from online sexual predators;
(4) the name, address and telephone number of a person who consents to service of process.
* In the interim period before the National Sex Offender Registry is implemented, it allows any commercial social networking site to access this information for persons required to register in a jurisdiction's sex offender registry using the prescribed methods.
Criminalization of Age Misrepresentation in Connection with Online Solicitation of a Minor
* This bill will make it a crime, with a prison term of up to 20 years, for any person 18 years or older who knowingly misrepresents their age with the intent to use the Internet to engage in criminal sexual content involving a minor or to facilitate such conduct.