Assemblyman Lavine: New Law Takes Aim at Internet Sex Predators
Glen Cove – Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine was present last week when Governor Paterson signed Assembly bill A.9859-A into law to help prevent sex crimes by prohibiting inappropriate use of the Internet by sex offenders. The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act is the result of a landmark agreement with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to prevent predators from victimizing children on Internet social networking sites.
"Although the Internet has revolutionized communication and information gathering for the 21st century, it also provides another opportunity for sexual predators to further victimize children," Assemblyman Lavine said. "With this breakthrough law I supported, New York becomes the first state to require such stringent regulations on sex offenders’ internet usage – a necessary step in ensuring the continued safety of our children."
Under the law:
- 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.
"Social networking Web sites such as MySpace and Facebook have become daily resources for millions of young people, but they can also provide sexual predators unprecedented access to unsuspecting users – subjecting them to unwanted advances and placing them in harm’s way," Assemblyman Lavine said. "The e-STOP law will head off these predatory encounters before they happen, preventing sexual offenses over the Internet and safeguarding our children."
Although many privacy safeguards still exist under federal and state law, Assemblyman Lavine 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.
"With this information readily available to them, social networking organizations will be better equipped to weed out sex offenders, thwarting potential online offenses," Assemblyman Lavine said. "The new law also authorizes them to contact law enforcement and government officials in the event of suspected inappropriate activity."
The e-STOP law 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.
"With the advent of new technology comes the need for new, appropriate protective regulation. This law will help keep New York safe by protecting our children on the Internet and averting future victimization," Assemblyman Lavine said.