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CA: Bar Sex Offenders From Social Networking Sites

March 6, 2010

ktvu.com: Bar Sex Offenders From Social Networking Sites.

Oakland, Calif. — Calling social networking sites the “schoolyard of the digital age,” San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris Tuesday proposed a new state law banning convicted sex offenders in California from accessing Facebook, MySpace and other sites. Harris joined forces with Pomona Assemblywoman Norma Torres to announce the law that would make it a crime if any of the state’s 63,000 registered sex offenders were found to be using a social networking site.

The law is similar to ones already on the books in New York and Illinois. But enforcement may be an issue.
The proposed California law does not goes as far as New York’s which requires sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses and online aliases with state authorities.

Harris said she hoped the threat of a return to jail would be a strong enough deterrent to make California’s sex offenders to think twice about logging on. She also hoped that the social networking sites themselves would take some action.

The New York state law is credited with making MySpace and Facebook in particular end the access of 3,500 known sex offenders.

Harris said she did not see the new law as an infringement of the rights of an individual.

“We are talking about prohibiting people have been proven in a court of law of being a sex offender,” she said. “We are just saying let’s update our laws to reflect where we are in terms of a society. Most people communicate through this technology…These kids, in particular, use Facebook and MySpace as a way to create friendships and relationships and talk about themselves and share personal details.”

Harris’s logic is dumbfounding. If it is acceptable to take away access to Internet technology from anyone who has committed a sex-related crime, let’s do the same for anyone who has committed a crime against another human (any form of assault, murder, physical abuse, ect.). The facts are these:

1. Enforcing such laws is impossible. Anyone with half a brain can figure out how to create a false user name or secondary email address to register with any social network.

2. Social networking sites who claim to remove sex offenders are simply practicing public relations. Sure, they may find and remove a few of the really stupid ones who register their real names, but most people do not register on these sites with their real full name.

3. As we have written many times in these blogs, it is very rare for any sex offense to occur as a result of meeting a stranger on a social networking site. This is an urban myth. When rare contact is made between teens and strangers, it is sought out by the teenagers. The study “found that children and teenagers were unlikely to be propositioned by adults online. In the cases that do exist, the report said, teenagers are typically willing participants and are already at risk because of poor home environments, substance abuse or other problems”.

4. Research shows that the median age for facebook /myspace is 27/26 years of age respectively. In other words, social networking sites are not the Internet equivalent to children’s playgrounds, as the media would have us believe.

5. Hysteria about these social netoworking sites has long ago been proven to be overblown.
See our postings “Report Calls Online Threats to Children Overblown”, and “Sex Offender on Social Site = Felony”

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