Digital News Report – The Senate Public Safety Committee today passed legislation authored by Sen. George Runner (R-Antelope Valley) that would require all registered sex offenders to register their online addresses with state law enforcement.
Runner called Senate Bill 1204 another tool for law enforcement to use in monitoring some of society’s most dangerous sex offenders, like admitted rapist/murder John Albert Gardner. If the offenders don’t comply with new registration requirements, they risk up to six months in jail, under SB 1204.
“We know where they live and now we will know what web pages, instant messaging names and email addresses they control,” Runner said. “The Internet has become a virtual playground to predators. It makes sense to force convicted sex offenders to share their online addresses with law enforcement.”
Besides registering online addresses, one of the objectives of SB 1204 is to prevent sex offenders from joining Facebook, MySpace and other social networking websites. While on parole, sex offenders can be prohibited from accessing social networking sites. Once parole is completed, however, a sex offender is free to join such sites.
By requiring sex offenders to register their online addresses, SB 1204 not only creates a database for law enforcement but creates a tool, which can be used to remove sexual predators from social networking sites. While the law cannot directly prohibit sex offenders who are no longer on parole from joining, social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have voluntarily purged thousands of registered sex offenders from New York.
As the bill moves forward, Senator Runner is committed to ensuring that online address information collected under SB 1204 may be used to permit social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to voluntarily purge registered sex offenders from the sites.
California will join New York and Illinois in enacting such a law. New York became the bill passed a similar bill in 2008, known as “e-STOP,” which was sponsored by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo said more than 3,500 registered New York sex offenders have been purged from Facebook and MySpace since the bill passed, including a man convicted of assaulting a 14-year-old boy and another man who raped a 2-year-old girl.
John Walsh, co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and host of “America’s Most Wanted,” supports New York e-STOP saying last year in a press release that “New York sets the gold standard for other states to follow.”
SB 1204 is supported by statewide law enforcement agencies and associations. It moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a vote in the coming weeks.