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E-mail, IM registry for sex offenders proposed
Published: 2006-12-07

A bill proposed on Thursday by two U.S. Senators would force Internet service providers to report any online content related to child exploitation they find on their networks and require that sex offenders provide state registries with all their online identifiers.

The bill, dubbed the "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act," is the brainchild of Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York. The registration of sex offenders online identities exactly matches a request made by MySpace earlier this week; the company hopes that mandating such information will help keep sex offenders out of the MySpace community.

"By requiring offenders to register any email address they use and aggregating that information in a database, websites that choose to block sex offenders can do so and law enforcement will have new tools to employ against predators who attempt to misuse the Internet to find potential victims," Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer for MySpace, said in a statement announcing support for the legislation. "The passage of this legislation will be a landmark moment in the history of Internet safety."

The reporting requirement of the legislation would also require companies to keep detailed information--including about the identity of the suspected offender--for 180 days and move the reporting requirements from the public health statutes to the Federal criminal code. Companies mus report such incidents to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's CyberTipLine.

The registration provisions would make failure to notify the authorities of all e-mail addresses a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The legislation would also make the use of the Internet in the commission of a crime of child exploitation an aggravating factor, adding 10 years to an offender's sentence.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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