A bill introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday would amend & supplement the Sex Offender Registration & Notification Act by encouraging and providing the means for social-networking websites such as MySpace, Classmates, and Friendster to compare their lists of registered participants with the federal government’s sex offender database. (Article)
The present law requires provision of a convicted sex offender’s name, social security number, home & work addresses, license plate number, and a DNA sample and fingerprint & palm prints. Passage of this bill would add e-mail addresses and any regularly-used online identifiers, such as names used in chat rooms and for “instant messages,” and carries provisions for fines and up to 10 years in prison for non-compliance. It also makes it illegal for anyone to misrepresent his age in one of those social chat room settings for the purpose of attempting to engage in sexual activity with a minor.
The e-mail and other Internet information would not be included in generally disclosed public information, but would be available to social networking sites thru confidential applications to the Attorney General’s Office.
Critics in essence are saying, though well-intended, much of the effort would be unenforceable.
Another related effort introduced earlier this month would provide for the establishment of a “national sex offender risk classification task force” to create guidelines for a risk-based sex offender classification system. That bill is also in the House Judiciary Committee. (See Here)