Assembly Targets Internet Sex Predators

e-STOP regulates sex offender use of Internet
April 16, 2008
Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny(D- Coney Island, Dyker Heights) announced that the Assembly passed a measure, the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (A.9859, “e-STOP”), regulating sex offenders’ use of the Internet to help prevent sex crimes. The bill is the result of a landmark agreement with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to prevent predators from victimizing children on Internet social networking sites.

“New York is the first state in the country to pass legislation with such stringent online regulations requiring registered sex offenders to inform law enforcement of their online activity,” Brook-Krasny said. “The Internet is an invaluable resource for learning and communication, but we must remain vigilant and implement appropriate safeguards to ensure the safety of our children. This groundbreaking legislation takes an important step in shielding them from dangerous predators.”

Under the bill:

  • all sex offenders who are required to register under Megan’s Law *must* register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services all Internet accounts and provide all electronic mail addresses and designations used for the purposes of chatting, instant messaging, social networking or other similar Internet communications;
  • registered sex offenders must notify DCJS within 10 days if that data changes, or face the current penalties under Megan’s Law for failing to register – a class E felony for a first offense and a class D felony for subsequent offenses; and
  • sex offenders’ Internet information will be made available to social networking Web sites who are authorized to prescreen or remove offenders and advise law enforcement if there is a potential violation of law or a threat to public safety.

“Though popular with young people, social networking Web sites and other online hangouts have become dangerous places for unsuspecting users – especially underage teens. These Web sites often attract sex offenders intent on harming children, giving them a platform to expose minors to obscene material and unwanted sexual advances,” Brook-Krasny said. “No doubt,

e-STOP will help prevent an untold number of sexual offenses over the Internet.”

Although many privacy safeguards still exist under federal and state law, Brook-Krasny said that the information collected by DCJS will be made available to any business or organization that provides social networking services over the Internet to minors.

“These organizations will now be able to effectively prescreen – and remove, if necessary – the offenders’ addresses from the site,” Brook-Krasny said. “They’ll also be authorized to contact law enforcement and government officials who investigate potential online sex offenses.”

The bill also imposes four new, mandatory conditions of conditional discharge, probation and parole for certain dangerous sex offenders under Megan’s Law, including:

  • a complete bar on Internet use to access pornography;
  • a ban on accessing or belonging to social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace;
  • a complete bar on using the Internet to communicate with other individuals or groups for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with minors; and
  • a bar against using the Internet to communicate with a minor unless the person is a child of the offender and the offender is not otherwise prohibited from communicating with that child.

“Times are changing and more and more youngsters are using the beneficial tools the Internet can provide. This legislation is necessary for our children’s safety, strengthening the laws regarding online sex predators and empowering Internet sites and authorities to help prevent future tragedies,” Brook-Krasny said.