An E-Mail Registry for Sex Offenders?
by David Garrett, newsfactor.com
Two of the Senate's biggest names, Charles E. Schumer (D.-NY) and John
McCain (R.-AZ) plan to push for legislation that will compel sex
offenders to register their active e-mail addresses with authorities
in an effort to save kids from online predators.
Schumer and McCain will introduce the bill at the start of 110th
Congress in 2007. If passed, it would send convicted sex offenders to
prison for providing false e-mail accounts.
The news follows on the heels of a MySpace announcement to vet its
user base against the sex offender registries of 46 states, the
nation's first attempt to combine database systems across state lines
into a single, unified system.
Technology or Talking?
MySpace is the star of the social networking universe, and a fixture
in most teens' after-school time. While popular, MySpace has been
dogged by reports of known sex offenders using it to solicit teens and
tweens with abusive and often nightmarish proposals.
It's a problem that's well known to John Shehan, program manager of
the CyberTipline, a project by the Center for Missing and Exploited
Children. According to Shehan, parents need to rely on talking, and
not merely technology, to keep their kids safe.
"It's old fashioned communication," said Shehan. "You put every type
of technological advantage online, but there are ways around all of
Yet talking -- and above all, talking with teens -- is sometimes the
hardest part of parenting. Shehan and colleagues performed a set of
focus groups in which parents quickly admitted that not knowing as
much as their kids did about was a roadblock to even the simplest
LOL No More
Teens' language, including the dozens of acronyms they use for
on-screen chats, was among the most confounding facets of their online
lives. Yet some of those very acronyms reveal the danger that
unpoliced computer use can pose:
IPN: I'm posting naked
LDR: Long distance relationship
LULAB: Love you like a brother
LULAS: Love you like a sister
OLL: Online love
RPG: Role playing games
WIBNI: Wouldn't it be nice if
WTGP: Want to go private?
A/S/L: age, sex, location
To help parents talk with teens, CyberTipline offers a list of
acronyms, tips, and talking points on its Web site at
www.cybertipline.com, as well as a way to report the actions of
"Even little tips like getting the computer out of kids' bedrooms and
putting it into a central location" can make a difference, said
Shehan. He added that sex predators' attempts to contact kids seem to
know no limits of deception.
"We've even seen cases where individuals have gone online posing as
atheists," said Shehan, "then go into chatrooms and look for kids who
are devout in a particular religion."
The adult -- often posing as a teen -- claims to find religion in an
attempt to groom the victim into sending photos, meeting offline, or
Copyright 2006 NewsFactor Network, Inc.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: There are so many holes in this
proposal! For on, what prevents a sex offender (or anyone else)
from using two or more different email addresses? You use one
address, when it gets to be 'too hot' to use further, then ditch
it and start again. After all, its not like getting a driver's
license or State ID card where a lot of people can get involved.
Email addresses are like 'throw-away' things. The second problem
I see is what happens to the user -- sex offender or not -- who
gets a 'joe job' done on him? In other words, someone impersonates
him, for the main reason of covering up his tracks. So does the
former sex offender get punished again for 'not registering' his
email address, or how will that work? And with the huge amount of
porn and spam on the net these days, which of you can say with
assurance your email name/address has never been forged? PAT]